artery-health

Four facts about artery health

(BPT) – Did you know that you could be slowly getting sicker with artery blockage, even if you are symptom free and not diagnosed with heart disease?

Your gender, age and whether you have diabetes all affect the prevalence of certain kinds of peripheral vascular disease, which is a condition that affects the blood vessels, according to a new study led by researchers at New York University Langone Medical Center. This study analyzed data from 3.6 million patients who were screened by Life Line Screening.

This insight could help doctors have a better understanding of who is at risk for which diseases.

Younger women: Peripheral artery disease
Peripheral artery disease is a narrowing of the blood vessels to the limbs, especially the lower limbs, caused by an increase of fatty deposits in the arterial walls. Most patients describe numbness or pain in the calf, hip, thigh or buttock, but up to 40 percent of people who are diagnosed do not feel any symptoms. Though often associated with older age groups, the NYU study found a distinction in younger age groups: The disease is actually more prevalent in younger women than younger men to a dramatic degree. Screening for peripheral artery disease can be as simple as comparing blood pressure in your ankle as your arm, known as an ankle brachial index.

Older men: Carotid artery stenosis
A narrowing of the arteries that carries blood to the brain is known as carotid artery stenosis, usually caused by an increase of fatty deposits. Most commonly, symptoms are not apparent until the patient has a stroke. The NYU study found a more pronounced and higher prevalence of this blockage in older men than in older women. If a patient does opt for screening, a non-invasive method is recommended, such as one offered by Life Line Screening, which uses ultrasound to visualize the arteries.

Men and women: Abdominal aortic aneurysms
The aorta is a major blood supply line to your body, running from your heart to your abdomen. When an aneurysm occurs, an area in this vital artery become enlarged and could eventually grow and rupture. These ruptures are serious, as they are life threatening and difficult to operate on. Causes are not known, but researchers have found a correlation with tobacco use, a hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure. Most people are unaware of having this condition, but a major symptom is a feeling of pulsation from the navel. According to the NYU study, prevalence of abdominal aortic aneurysms was similar across all age groups. Annual screening can be done with a simple ultrasound.

Diabetes patients: Peripheral vascular disease
Patients with diabetes are often screened for heart disease, just because of the great risk factors present in these patients. But the NYU study results indicate that doctors might want to consider the onset of peripheral vascular disease in their diabetes patients as well. Patients with diabetes were at a very high risk of developing peripheral vascular disease in the lower extremities or the carotid artery — even if they were not diagnosed with heart disease, according to the study.

Future study is needed to see if screening could lead to better health for diabetes patients, says senior investigator Dr. Jeffrey S. Berger, an associate professor in the Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology at NYU Langone.

“We know that if you have carotid artery stenosis, you’re at an increased risk for stroke, and we know that if you have lower extremity arterial disease, you’re at increased risk for significant impairment in your daily activities like walking, and even amputation,” he says. “What these studies show is the power of large data sets to provide insight into the prevalence of and risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

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Why you need vitamin E – and how to get your daily dose

(BPT) – You get your fill of vitamins C and D by eating oranges and soaking in a little sun each day, which is good for your body and mind. Small habits like these can have a big impact on your overall health and help you feel your best each day. However, vitamins C and D aren’t the only vitamins your body needs to thrive. Take vitamin E, for example. This overlooked vitamin is essential to our well-being and yet, many people don’t know anything about it. Let’s take a moment to learn about the super vitamin, and what you can do to get your daily intake.

What are the benefits of vitamin E?

Vitamin E, like vitamin C, is an antioxidant and therefore helps improve immunity levels. Here are the possible benefits of vitamin E, and how it can specifically enhance your health. 

* Fights summer colds: Winter isn’t the only time you can catch a cold. In the summer, vitamin E can boost your immunity to prevent sickness during the warmer months. 

* Extends cell life: What’s the secret to aging well? While there are many factors that can influence aging, vitamin E can extend cell life to keep skin in great shape for years. 

* Repairs damaged cells: With vitamin E oil, you can also repair damaged cells. Specifically, vitamin E can be used to treat sunburns and scars. 

* May reduce risk of heart disease and cancer: There’s still much to be discovered about vitamin E. Currently, doctors and scientists are testing whether vitamin E can reduce the risk of serious health conditions, like heart disease and cancer. 

* Reduces risk of cataracts and other eye issues: Maintain eye health and prevent serious eye diseases by getting your daily intake of vitamin E. 

* May slow down cognitive decline: Studies have found that a higher intake of vitamin E in older individuals can reduce cognitive decline and can even slow down the progression of diseases like Alzheimer’s. 

How can I get more vitamin E in my diet?

The US Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin E in individuals 14 years and older is 15 mg. Instead of taking supplements to get the recommended daily dosage, however, save your money and add vitamin-rich foods to your diet. “The simplest way to increase your vitamin E intake is to follow a healthy diet that focuses on eating vitamin E-rich vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and lean forms of protein,” says Lyssie Lakatos, a registered dietitian. Lakatos lists these five foods as examples of what you can include in your vitamin E-rich meal plan.

* Pistachios: A protein-packed snack, pistachios are also a rich source of vitamin E you can take on-the-go. 

* Spinach: When preparing salads, toss some spinach into the mix. This dark, leafy green is also high in calcium. 

* Eggs: Eggland’s Best eggs contain 10 times more vitamin E than ordinary eggs, which is equal to 25 percent of the recommended daily intake for vitamin E. They are also packed with omega-3s, vitamins like B12 and D, and contain 25 percent less saturated fat than other eggs. 

* Avocados: Add an avocado to your salad or make guacamole to get the benefits of this healthy, vitamin E-rich fruit. 

* Olives: Whether you like to eat olives as a snack or use olive oil when cooking, you can expect to increase your vitamin E intake by including olives in your diet. 

Making Vitamin-E focused meals is simple and delicious. Here’s one recipe you can try at home today!

EBLT Bowl

Ingredients:

*2 Eggland’s Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs

*1 bag spinach

*½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved

*6 pieces of turkey bacon, cooked and chopped

*1 avocado, sliced

*salt & pepper to taste

*½ cup whole grain croutons (optional)

Dressing:

*1/4 cup light mayonnaise (or plain Greek yogurt)

*1 tablespoon water

*1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

*Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

*In a large bowl combine spinach, onion and tomatoes. 

*Place all of your salad dressing ingredients together in a jar and shake until completely combined.

*Top spinach mixture with two hard-cooked eggs per bowl, sliced avocado and croutons. 

*Drizzle with dressing and enjoy!

All vitamins, from vitamin C to vitamin E, are essential to your overall health. Visit Eggland’s Best to learn more about the nutritional benefits of vitamin E. 

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summer-excitement

Summer Excitement

(BPT) – By Sarah H., Living With Psoriasis

For most people, summer means warm weather, blossoming trees, and vacation. But as a young college student living with psoriasis, it brings on a whole different set of experiences and challenges. Even though it affects approximately 7.5 million Americans, many people do not know what psoriasis is. 

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes inflammation, redness, and itching of the skin, and is usually found on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back. So for me, warmer weather, short sleeves, and light dresses means my skin is more exposed than during the winter when I am buried under layers 

Psoriasis is a disease that causes an overproduction of cells that appear on the skin’s surface. These cells form thick scales on the skin, which can be dry, cracked, and red – and can be itchy and painful. Psoriasis doesn’t just “go away” – it is a chronic skin condition. 

Although there isn’t a cure for psoriasis, I have learned from my doctor that there are many ways to manage the skin symptoms. Lifestyle adjustments may also offer some relief, such as maintaining a healthy weight, minimizing stress, and following a healthy diet.  

In addition to making lifestyle changes, I’ve always worked closely with my doctor to find a treatment plan that works for me. Over the years, I’ve tried different medications, but never stuck to them for one reason or another. Eventually, my doctor and I decided I try Otezla® (apremilast; 30 mg tablets), a prescription medicine approved for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis for whom phototherapy or systemic therapy is appropriate. Otezla is a pill – not a cream or an injection. Otezla was something that could fit into my daily routine. Based on my medical history, my doctor told me that the Prescribing Information for Otezla had no requirement for routine lab monitoring. As a busy college student, this was helpful! 

My doctor also made it clear that it may take some time to see if Otezla works for me. After four months, I saw an improvement in my plaque psoriasis symptoms and was glad that we decided to try Otezla. 

Otezla may not work for everyone. Before I started taking Otezla, my doctor had also discussed with me potential side effects. According to my doctor, people who are allergic to any of its components should not take Otezla. Otezla is associated with serious side effects like depression, weight decrease, and interacting with other medicines that can make Otezla less effective. The most common side effects of Otezla were diarrhea, nausea, upper respiratory tract infection, tension headache, and headache. My doctor also told me to read additional information in a brochure I received about Otezla, which also had the Important Safety Information and Full Prescribing Information for Otezla. 

While my psoriasis certainly presents me with challenges, I do my best not to let it keep me from doing the things that I love. My advice for others living with plaque psoriasis is to educate yourself about the disease and work with a doctor to develop a management plan that works for you. Summer is a welcomed time, and I don’t want to miss a minute of it! 

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION 

You must not take Otezla if you are allergic to apremilast or to any of the ingredients in Otezla 

Otezla is associated with an increase in adverse reactions of depression. In clinical studies, some patients reported depression and suicidal behavior while taking Otezla. Some patients stopped taking Otezla due to depression. Before starting Otezla, tell your doctor if you have had feelings of depression, suicidal thoughts, or suicidal behavior. Be sure to tell your doctor if any of these symptoms or other mood changes develop or worsen during treatment with Otezla.  

Some patients taking Otezla lost body weight. Your doctor should monitor your weight regularly. If unexplained or significant weight loss occurs, your doctor will decide if you should continue taking Otezla 

Some medicines may make Otezla less effective, and should not be taken with Otezla. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and nonprescription medicines.  

Side effects of Otezla were diarrhea, nausea, upper respiratory tract infection, tension headache, and headache.  

These are not all the possible side effects with Otezla. Ask your doctor about other potential side effects. Tell your doctor about any side effect that bothers you or does not go away.  

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or planning to breastfeed. Otezla has not been studied in pregnant women or in women who are breastfeeding.  

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-332-1088. 

Please click here for Full Prescribing Information. 

Otezla® is a registered trademark of Celgene Corporation. 

© 2016 Celgene Corporation 08/16 USII-APR160044(1) 

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Back to work: Ease your baby into bottle feeding

(BPT) – During your first few weeks with baby, your lives were intimately entwined: eating, sleeping and eating some more. All occurring at erratic, irregular times, and around the clock, might we add.  

As the calendar on maternity leave begins to run out, it’s hard to fathom how this intensive baby schedule is going to fit in with your working life. Now is the time to start planning for your return to work, especially if baby will be eating from a bottle for the first time.

It’s a scenario that will be familiar to many moms. About four-fifths of U.S. infants are breastfed at some point, according to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When babies reach 3 months old, 44.4 percent are exclusively breastfed, and that percentage dips to 22.3 percent by the age of 6 months.

Whether you plan to pump or switch to formula, preparation is the key to ensuring a smooth transition.

Pump and freeze: Two weeks before you return to work is the ideal time to start pumping and freezing extra milk so you have plenty in your supply. Set aside time after one feeding per day to pump, and store the milk in the plastic bags that are designed for use with the pump. If baby is going to a daycare provider, be sure to label them with your last name and the date.

Practice with a bottle: In this two-week period before work, start offering breast milk or formula from a bottle so baby becomes accustomed to this new approach to eating. Some babies aren’t picky, while others will protest. In the latter case, that might be because your baby strongly associates you with food! Before a regular feeding, try leaving for a brief outing while another caretaker stays behind with baby and offers her a bottle. Many parents have found that eventually, with practice, baby will accept a bottle.

Have a supply plan for your child care provider: Talk to your child care provider about what they need from you. If you are providing breast milk, have a conversation about what happens when the supply runs low. Some provide formula, while will require that you send a container or two they can keep on hand for backup. With that in mind, a test feeding at home with formula is a good idea, so you can confirm baby does not have any allergies.

Pumping at work: If you plan to pump, set up a meeting with your boss a couple of weeks before you return to work to plan on how this will fit with your work schedule. One way to do it is to break up your lunch hour into three 20-minute segments, pumping once in the morning and once in the afternoon, which leaves a 20-minute meal break for you. Also, talk about where you can pump, preferably in a clean, private lactation room not far from your work space.

Keep formula on hand: Over the next few months, your baby’s eating habits will emerge and change. Even if your workplace is generous with time and resources to help you stay on your pumping schedule, a busy week can collide with a hungrier than usual baby, which can tax your supplies. Have a couple cans of powdered baby formula on hand so your family is ready in any situation. Consider store brand infant formula, which is just a nutritious and safe as the nationally advertised name brand versions, because all infant formulas sold in the U.S. must meet the same Food and Drug Administration standards and offer complete nutrition for baby. Store brand formula can save families up to 50 percent, or approximately $600 per year. Even if you are already feeding baby with a certain brand formula, switching to store brand formula is safe and well-tolerated in infants, according to “the Switch Study,” a clinical study conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia.

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Silent stroke is not so silent

(BPT) – Silent strokes, ones that happen in your brain without you even knowing, can lead to full-blown strokes as well as cognitive impairment and dementia.

The most common depiction of a stroke is a person unable to move on one side of their body with slurred speech, but studies show that many stroke victims had silent strokes previously, that, as the name indicates, went unnoticed. The damage caused by the silent stroke, however, can be seen through advanced imaging techniques.

Since no one is suggesting that everyone get an annual brain scan, the next best thing is to understand the risk factors for silent stroke and control those. Two of those risk factors, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and blockages in the carotid arteries are simple to screen for and have effective treatments.

“The upside to all this is that there are steps one can take to prevent silent stroke,” says Dr. Andrew Manganaro, a vascular surgeon and chief medical officer for Life Line Screening. “What it takes is a measure of awareness, routine screening and, if needed, treatment to prevent the blood clots that can lead to this long-term damage to the brain.”

Silent strokes are 30 to 40 percent more prevalent in women than men and the results can be serious. Impaired movement, muscle weakness, depression, memory problems and cognitive problems are all associated with silent stroke.

“So when atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure or carotid blockage is present in a patient, that should be an indicator to her physician that she’s at risk of a silent stroke,” Manganaro says.

The key to preventing stroke is to get a full picture of your vascular health, so you can begin treatment and monitoring. Manganaro recommends routine screenings for the damaged arteries that indicate vascular problems. Testing for high blood pressure, carotid blockages and the presence of atrial fibrillation, along with peripheral arterial disease screening and abdominal aortic aneurysm testing are safe and accurate.

“These screenings can help you and your doctor get a full picture of your vascular health,” says Manganaro.

To set up a screening appointment in your community that is affordable and convenient, visit www.LifeLineScreening.com.

To cut your risk of stroke, treating hypertension with medication and lifestyle changes can help, Manganaro said. Control your weight, reduce your consumption of red meat, eat more plant foods and talk to your doctor about starting an exercise program. If you smoke, make it a priority to quit. Smokers have double the risk of stroke than non-smokers, because smoking can lead to excessive blood clotting.

If you or your family members have noticed recent changes to your memory facility or mobility, consult with your doctor. In some patients, these have been symptoms of a silent stroke, but in any case it will benefit you to find the root cause and begin treatment.

Does silent stroke lurk in your future?
The first step in preventing stroke is knowing which conditions can enhance your risk. If you have any of these conditions, talk to your doctor.

Do you have a history of high blood pressure?

Do you smoke?

Do you have an irregular heartbeat?

Do you have hypertension?

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A four-point plan for joint health

(BPT) – Whether it’s a brand-new Bentley or a classic 1970 Mustang, most people have a car they dream about. If they’re lucky enough to own it someday, you better believe they’re going to take care of it. Regular maintenance is an essential part of keeping a vehicle in tip-top shape. The same is true of the human body, particularly the joints.

“Prevention is the only thing that actually prolongs the health of your joints, similar to the care of a machine,” says Matt Johnson, health and performance expert and president of On Target Living. “If you want something to last as long as possible, and to cost as little as possible over the long run, you have to do maintenance, checkups, and change the oil. Taking care of your body is no different. If you do, your joints can last until you’re 80, 90, or even 100 without tendon or ligament issues.”

Johnson notes that joint issues are some of the most common concerns he sees in his practice. These issues can happen at any age, although many start to manifest between the ages of 40 and 50, after years of wear and tear cause pain and inflammation. 

Johnson’s mantra: If you take care of the body it will take care of you. To help people of any age maintain joint health, he provides this four-point joint maintenance plan.

1. Rest
The first part of healing the joints is to rest the joints. Massage, meditation, light yoga, stretching, and cool baths are great ways to rest the joints. Additionally, quality sleep each night is essential. (Quick tip: Take an epsom salt bath once a week.)

2. Healing Nutrients
Studies show that omega-3 fats can help support joint health by limiting inflammation after exercise and boosting hormones that help the body heal. Take a daily, high-quality omega-3 supplement like Nordic Naturals that has been third-party tested for purity, and is known for its great, non-fishy taste.

3. Superfoods
Superfood herbs and spices help the body get maximum nutrients in minimal amounts. For example, curcumin and bromelain are both great for helping joint pain and repair. Remember, limited processing of the product is ideal for optimal absorption. 

4. Exercise and body alignment
You can’t have optimal joint function if the body is out of alignment. There are five key joint checkpoints: ankle, knee, hip, shoulder and neck. This is where you start to achieve perfect posture, after which you can focus on strengthening the large muscles.

“The best age is always now,” says Johnson. “Start as soon as possible and think about it like you take care of a car or nice jewelry. Joints are meant to last as long as you live. The key is to take care of them with quality nutrition, normal exercise, and adequate rest.”

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5 reasons to make a career in fitness

(BPT) – Imagine waking up early on a Monday morning with a smile on your face. You’re excited to get the week started because you love what you do. Or how about taking a Tuesday afternoon all to yourself, without having to ask permission and use your precious vacation time? It might sound like a dream, but with a career in fitness, it could be your reality.

A career in fitness is not only flexible, but financially rewarding, and caters to a variety of personalities. The fitness industry is booming, so there’s plenty of opportunities to grow and be successful with your very own business. If you’ve been on the fence about a career in the fitness industry, here are some reasons that might convince you to finally make the switch.

Make a living by helping others.

“I love nothing more than using the research based, scientifically proven approach I have learned through my education to help others accomplish their goals,” says Heather Esterline, a graduate of Life Time Academy, a professional fitness trainer program that lets you step into the industry and build upon your career goals. Working in the fitness industry is highly rewarding as you help people improve their health. You have the opportunity to be an important mentor and trusted friend in every client’s life.

See tangible results when working with clients.

As you work with clients and watch them reach their goals, you can see the results of your knowledge and expertise. Whether you’re helping someone lose weight, gain muscle or simply learn the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, you’ll be rewarded as each client continues to make progress.

Choose your specialty.

Whether you want to be a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, yoga teacher or even a health club owner, you have the chance to choose your focus. No matter how you want to enter the fitness industry, there’s a class or program to pave your path. Life Time Fitness’ personal training certification program offers several different courses and passes to help you earn the credentials you need to get your career off the ground. The Life Time Academy has two different certification courses that start on October 17 — the Premier and Elite Certification courses. During the Elite Professional Fitness Trainer Courses, participants not only become certified throughout the 24-week course, but also get hands on experience during an externship consisting of 120 hours, altogether equaling 260 contact hours. If learning the foundations of personal training and corrective exercise is more of your interest, the Premier Professional Fitness Trainer Course may be better for you, lasting 16 weeks and 120 contact hours.

Work with a variety of people in many places.

When you have a career in fitness, you’re not sitting in an office, having meetings with the same coworkers every day. From personal trainer to health club owner, there are so many opportunities for working in this field. You can be self-employed, work with a team or even establish your own business and employ a staff. Whether you want to work indoors or out, choose your environment, your schedule and enjoy a healthy work/life balance.

It’s one of the fastest growing careers.

Positive vibes and low stress make personal training one of the top rated professions by CNN Money Magazine. And it doesn’t take long for your personal training career to skyrocket. For example, Jason Sweetnam, personal trainer and team weight loss instructor for Life Time Fitness, was 250 pounds and living an unhealthy lifestyle when he decided to begin his fitness journey. He decided to improve his health and is now a working full-time helping others get their fitness and nutrition on track.

Are you looking for a career change that allows you to be passionate about your work? If any of these reasons speak to you, then it might be time to break into the fitness industry.

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How technology is simplifying relief of chronic pain

(BPT) – Doctors hate seeing patients suffering from chronic pain, and not just because their instinct is immediately to want to help their patients to feel better. One of the primary challenges doctors confront is that even though chronic pain is common, it can be extremely difficult to diagnose and treat. The condition can be debilitating for patients and frustrating for the doctors trying to help them.

“Chronic pain is a multi-faceted condition,” says Dr. Ahmed Raslan, assistant professor of Neurological Surgery at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland. “The causes are varied, and each person experiences chronic pain differently. The sheer number of variables in play can make effective treatment extremely complex. It’s not unusual for doctors and patients to try multiple types and combinations of treatment before finding something that provides at least partial relief, and that process can take months and even years.”

More than 11 percent of American adults suffer from chronic pain, according to a recent National Institutes of Health study. People who live with chronic pain report numerous negative effects on their lives, including damage to personal relationships, decreased productivity at work, disruption of their daily routine and even depression. The Institute of Medicine has estimated the medical costs and lost productivity associated with chronic pain could cost as much as $635 billion per year.

“Many chronic pain patients face barriers to effective treatment, including the need for continual doctor visits to adjust aspects of their treatment, and difficulty traveling to meet with their physicians,” Dr. Raslan says. “Conditions such as intractable back pain, nerve injury, neck pain, pain after hernia operations, spinal cord injury pain, post herpetic neuralgia, complex regional pain syndrome, and pain after failed back surgery can force patients to try multiple treatments. Once they’ve tried a number of options and still have not achieved the desired comfort they may become a candidate for spinal cord stimulation therapy.”

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) therapy treats chronic pain by interrupting pain signals before they reach the brain. According to Dr. Raslan, the therapy works by “flooding the gates of the spinal cord so it cannot allow unpleasant pain signals to pass through the gates. Depending on how fast and regular the therapy is being delivered, patients may feel a slight tingling sensation in the area of the body associated with their pain, and in most cases patients report that sensation replaces the feeling of pain, which corresponds to pain relief.”

Though SCS has been around for years, recent advances from St. Jude Medical have made the proven effective treatment simpler for patients and doctors to use successfully. St. Jude Medical recently launched the Proclaim Elite SCS System, which is the most advanced SCS system the company has ever developed, and which includes a new, innovative platform that enables patients to adjust therapy with an Apple iPod Touch mobile device. The application is easy to use which the company hopes will enhance patient experience and delivery optimal results for patients.

The company does note that implantation of a spinal cord stimulation system can involve risk, such as painful stimulation, loss of pain relief and surgical risks, such as paralysis, during the implantation procedure. Patients should talk to their physician to determine if spinal cord stimulation therapy is right for them and their particular pain condition.

For many patients the therapy can deliver pain relief leading to dramatic improvement in quality of life. “Before I tried SCS, managing my chronic pain was very difficult,” says Ronald Seeling, 50, of Warren, Oregon, a patient of Dr. Raslan. “For many years, I was taking a lot of pain medication and my quality of life was diminished. I could barely walk and couldn’t do things around the house or visit with my grandkids.”

Seeling says SCS has provided him with more predictable and consistent chronic pain relief.

“Best of all, I was able to ‘test drive’ the treatment before I committed to it,” Seeling says. “Just a few months later, my pain is under control and I’m able to attend the grandkids’ ball games and birthday parties and even help with the dishes.”

“I’m encouraged by the convenience and freedom that my patients experience with this cutting-edge treatment,” Dr. Raslan says. “It has helped people like Ronald take control of their chronic pain and experience a better quality of life.”

Raslan cautions that SCS may not be right for everyone, so talk to your doctor about treatment options for your chronic pain. For more information, visit www.PowerOverYourPain.com, a site provided by St. Jude Medical, a leader in technologies to treat chronic pain.

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Back to school with diabetes: 5 steps to keep your child safe at school

(BPT) – For parents of children living with diabetes, back to school season includes more than the usual shopping trips for supplies and clothes.

Diabetes management is a 24-hour job. During the school year, your child is spending a large portion of their day in class or participating in extracurricular activities. So it’s critical that you feel confident that school staff members are trained and able to support your child’s diabetes care needs. Most of all, you want your child to feel safe while also having access to the same opportunities as their peers.

You are not alone. There are nearly 210,000 children living with diabetes in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association. Here are a few important steps that parents of children with diabetes can take to make sure their kids are safe at school:

1. Know your rights. Get the facts about legal protections at school for your child. Federal laws protect children with diabetes from discrimination. Also, many states have laws in place that include additional safeguards to ensure your child has what he or she needs to be safe and healthy. Discrimination can come in many forms — such as not providing your child with access to diabetes care so he or she may safely participate in extracurricular activities or field trips, and not allowing self-management during the school day. Learn more about your state’s laws and whether they offer protections and guidance in addition to federal law at diabetes.org/kidswin. More information about existing legal protections is also available at diabetes.org/safeatschool

2. Have a written plan. Do you have a Diabetes Medical Management Plan in place for your child? If not, this is a perfect time to ask your child’s health care provider to develop one. Even if you already have a plan, it needs to be reviewed and updated so the school has the correct information.

You should also update or develop your child’s Section 504 Plan, which is an accommodations plan developed for students eligible for protections under Section 504, a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. This agreement between the parent/guardian and the school spells out what the school is specifically going to do to make sure your child’s diabetes is safely managed. The plan also identifies who is going to help your child when the school nurse is unavailable.

Students who qualify for services under another federal law — the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — will need to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Both of these plans are developed by a coordinator at your child’s school to create clear lines of communication around individual needs and support for your child, from self-management requirements to snacks and supplies. You should contact your school’s 504/IEP coordinator, who is often a school principal, guidance counselor or teacher, to initiate the process or to update your child’s existing plan.

3. Get to know the school nurse or health coordinator. The school nurse or school health coordinator is usually the primary provider of diabetes care for your child. Be sure your child is comfortable with the school nurse and that you have a good line of communication with the diabetes care team at your child’s school. Provide the necessary supplies, including insulin, glucagon, a “low box” (with glucose tablets or juice boxes) and food, and make sure these supplies are in an accessible location.

4. Make sure staff receives diabetes training. While the school nurse should always be the main point of contact for your child’s diabetes care during the school day, there will undoubtedly be times when the nurse is not immediately available or not on the premises. It is very important that additional school staff is trained by a school nurse or other qualified health professional with expertise in pediatric diabetes to provide assistance. These staff members should understand the daily needs of a child with diabetes, know how to identify a diabetes emergency, administer insulin and emergency glucagon, and know when to seek emergency medical assistance.

5. Advocate for self-management. If your child is able and your child’s health care provider approves, your child should be permitted to monitor glucose levels, administer insulin, and carry the necessary supplies needed to self-manage. You know your child’s self-management abilities best, so coordinate with your school administrator to make sure your child is as comfortable as possible throughout the day.

Follow these tips for a smooth back-to-school transition where you can feel at ease, while your child has the freedom to learn and participate alongside his or her peers. 

If you don’t feel comfortable and confident in the care your child is receiving at school, if you feel your child is being treated unfairly or if you want help with developing a written plan, contact the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES for information and guidance from the Association’s legal advocates.

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5 superfoods that support kids’ eye health

(BPT) – The start of the school year means a laundry list of to-do’s for parents. From shopping for school supplies to scheduling an annual physical, it’s a hectic yet exciting time for the entire family.

As kids settle back into the groove of the school year, you can ensure they are prepared with the right pencils and notebooks, but if they are straining to see the teacher, learning will be a challenge.

“The first step is to have your child’s vision checked annually by a doctor,” says registered dietitian, Tammy Lakatos. “The next step is to maintain healthy vision which parents can easily do by providing a wholesome diet rich in vitamin-packed foods proven to support eye health.”

While carrots have a reputation as an eye-healthy food, there are many other options that keep kids seeing sharp. These five superfoods will help keep your kids’ eyes healthy so they can better focus at school.

Berries
Bulk up on berries to maintain that perfect vision. Blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are packed with eye-healthy vitamin C. Bonus: because vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts the immune system, it will help stave off the coughs and colds that often come along with the start of school.

Nuts and seeds
When kids crave crunch, seeds and nuts are the perfect choice. English walnuts, raw almonds, flax seed and sunflower seeds are satisfying on top of yogurt or in a homemade trail mix. Plus, these nuts and seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which research shows can help support vision.

Eggs
This breakfast staple can boost eye health, but keep in mind not all eggs are created equal. Eggland’s Best eggs come from hens fed a wholesome, all-vegetarian diet that results in a superior egg packed with eye-healthy nutrients such as 38 percent more lutein, three times more vitamin B 12 and five times more vitamin D than ordinary eggs.

Dark green vegetables
Antioxidants in kale, spinach and broccoli help keep eyes healthy and prevent disease. Each vegetable contains high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, which studies have found lowers the risk of advanced macular degeneration and cataracts.

Citrus fruit
Oranges make awesome snacks or meal add-ons. Because citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C, you’re not only giving your child a naturally sweet treat, you’re helping support eye health. Plus, the smell of citrus will awaken the senses to help fight the afternoon slump.

Want a tasty recipe kids will love that incorporates multiple eye-healthy superfoods? Get into the back-to-school spirit and try these Green Eggs and Ham Cups for breakfast or lunch. For more recipe ideas, Lakatos recommends visiting www.egglandsbest.com.

Green Eggs and Ham Cups

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Makes 12 cups

Ingredients:

7 Eggland’s Best Eggs (large)
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup broccoli florets, finely chopped
3/4 cups extra lean ham, diced 
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Shredded cheese of your choice (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sauté onions and broccoli over medium heat until soft. Add spinach, ham and continue cooking until spinach is wilted.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and seasonings. Add vegetable and ham mixture to eggs.

Coat 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray and fill each muffin cup with egg/veggie mixture.

Top with shredded cheese.

Bake 15-17 minutes or until eggs spring back or toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a rack and remove from pan. Enjoy warm or room temperature.

*Egg cups can be rewarmed in the microwave or toaster oven if desired.

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