This is the “Health” description

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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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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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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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