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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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U.S. report: Eggs essential to top 3 healthy diets, but some eggs are better than others

(BPT) – They’re considered by many to be among nature’s most perfect foods, and nutritionists are increasingly touting their health benefits.

That’s convenient for the rest of us, since eggs are also among the world’s most versatile treats. Think tasty Eggs Benedict, warm hash brown frittata, refreshing egg salad, savory egg-fried rice or sweet and creamy egg custard.

Not only can the compact and creamy protein be incorporated into a huge range of main dishes, side dishes and desserts, but it also works perfectly with many of today’s popular eating patterns. In fact, eggs are recommended in all three eating plans promoted by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture in their dietary report released last year: The Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, the Healthy Mediterranean-Style Pattern and the Healthy Vegetarian Pattern. The Mediterranean diet, for example, focuses on nutrient-dense foods and recommends that breakfasts feature a quality protein like eggs along with fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Of course, eggs are also gluten-free.

“Eggs are a nutrient power-house and one of the most wholesome ways to start your day,” says registered dietitian, Lyssie Lakatos. “Not only are they low in calories and an excellent source of protein that can keep you satiated for hours, but their endless versatility makes it easy to prepare them ahead of time for a healthy grab-and-go snack.”

Not all eggs are created equal

Consumers should know, however, that not all eggs are created equal, and the diets of the hens that lay them plays a significant part. Eggland’s Best eggs offer the benefit of five times the Vitamin D and 25 percent less saturated fat than ordinary eggs. EB eggs are also packed with other important nutrients including three times the Vitamin B12, more than twice the omega-3s, 10 times the Vitamin E and 38 percent more lutein than regular eggs.

Eggland’s Best’s superior nutritional profile is due to EB’s proprietary, all-vegetarian diet of healthy grains, canola oil and a supplement of rice brain, alfalfa, sea kelp and Vitamin E. In addition, the hens’ feed contains no added hormones, antibiotics, steroids, animal by-products, or recycled or processed foods. The resulting eggs are produced locally throughout the U.S. so they are delivered farm fresh to your local supermarket.  In fact, a recent independent study showed that Eggland’s Best eggs stay fresher longer than ordinary eggs.

“I always look to provide my family and clients with the best, and Eggland’s Best eggs are just that,” said Lakatos. “I tell my clients to include foods that are the biggest nutritional bang for your calorie buck, and Eggland’s Best eggs offer more for your calories since they are much higher in essential nutrients – and all for only 60 calories!”

See a recipe below by Eggland’s Best that is perfect for those following the Mediterranean diet:

Mediterranean Baked Eggs

Ingredients

  • 4 Eggland’s Best Eggs (large)
  • 2 cups frozen  hash brown potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium (3/4 cup) onion, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 (6-ounce) bag fresh spinach leaves
  • 6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small (1/2 cup) tomato, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves

Preparation

  • Heat oven to 400°F. Butter 4 (each 8-ounces & 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-inch deep) individual glass or ceramic baking dishes.
  • Spoon 1/2 cup potatoes evenly onto bottom of each baking dish.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are very lightly browned.
  • Melt butter in 12-inch skillet until sizzling; add onions and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until vegetables are softened.
  • Add spinach leaves; continue cooking, turning spinach often, 4-5 minutes or until spinach is wilted.
  • Add whipping cream, garlic, salt and pepper; continue cooking 1 minute.
  • Add tomato, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and basil.
  • Spread mixture over partially cooked potatoes; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
  • Using a spoon, make an indentation in center of mixture in each baking dish.
  • Crack 1 egg into each indentation. Bake 18-20 minutes or until yolks are set or yolk temperature reaches 160°F.

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Avoid bed bugs while traveling with these hotel tips

(BPT) – The summer travel season is upon us, offering an opportunity for families across the U.S. to reconnect. The goal is simple — to make memories that last a lifetime. Bedbugs are the very last souvenir you want your family to bring home. A recent study conducted by the University of Kentucky found that bedbug reporting on online review sites and social media have a “…big impact on purchasing decisions.” It’s no surprise that both leisure and business travelers would avoid a bedbug-infested hotel.

General managers across the country are feeling the financial bite from bedbugs. According to the same University of Kentucky study previously mentioned, a single online review that mentions bedbugs lowers hotel room value by $38 for business travelers and $23 for leisure travelers.

What exactly is the state of the current hotel-related bedbug problem? Recent studies found that about 74 percent of pest professionals reported problems with bedbugs in hotel rooms, a truly staggering figure. This rise in bedbugs is coupled with a changing public perception, with 43 percent of people now expressing the attitude that bedbugs are a concern.

An occurrence of bedbugs can also massively impact a hotel’s brand reputation. Exposure to legal action continues to rise jeopardizing hotel shareholder equity. Just recently, a Virginia woman sought $5 million in a lawsuit over bedbugs. A federal judge ruled in her favor and a jury will hear her case.

So, how can a hotelier and a hotel guest both prevent becoming the latest Trip Advisor bedbug-related casualty? Well, there are a number of things that each can do to win this battle. Let’s take a closer look.

* Education is key. Research proves that two-thirds of travelers surveyed by the University of Kentucky last year couldn’t identify a bedbug. Hotel staff and individual travelers are encouraged to be able to recognize a bedbug in its different life stages as well as signs of bedbugs in and around beds.

* Forward thinking in bedbug prevention has savvy hoteliers and travelers investigating the root of the problem. Savvy hoteliers are designing hotel rooms to be more bedbug resistant.

* Hoteliers and homeowners are adopting preventative measures for their mattresses and/or box springs such as an active mattress liner that kill bedbugs. ActiveGuard(R) Mattress Liners go on like a fitted sheet and can save time, money and energy preventing bedbug infestations from establishing.

While recent reports may show that bedbugs are winning, the war is not over. Embracing technology, educating oneself and taking a preventative approach to this blood-sucking pest can lead to victory for both hoteliers and travelers.

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Calling all small employers: Affordable, quality health coverage for your employees

(BPT) – Research shows that for small employers, being able to offer quality health insurance for employees is a high priority. Even so, you may be wondering about how to control costs while offering quality coverage, which policies to choose for your employees and how to enroll.

Understanding the ins and outs of insurance can be challenging. The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace is here to help. Created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the SHOP Marketplace offers small employers (generally, those with 1 to 50 employees) an easy way to find affordable, high-quality private health and dental insurance.

Why might the SHOP Marketplace be a good option for you?

One of the biggest advantages of offering your employees quality health coverage through the SHOP Marketplace is that you could be eligible for a tax credit to make offering coverage more affordable. Employers with fewer than 25 employees may be eligible for a tax credit worth up to 50 percent of their premium contribution.

Another key feature of the SHOP Marketplace is the choice and flexibility it offers for employers. You can choose one health insurance plan, or you can give your employees the option to select from a variety of plans. You can also decide what types of coverage to offer (health, dental, or both) and whether to offer coverage to dependents. It’s your choice — you decide what works for the needs of your employees and your bottom line.

Still, you might have questions about how to navigate the process. The good news is you can get help. Registered agents and brokers are available to advise you about the quality options available. They’ll even walk you through the actual enrollment process itself.

But here’s the best news of all. To find out more about the benefits of the SHOP Marketplace, all you have to do is go visit HealthCare.gov

 

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