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Five Steps You Can Take to Prevent Dementia

by Bob Curley on September 18, 2014

crosswordyoohoojujuFlikrThe causes of dementia are varied, and some are unknown. But there are some steps you can take right now to reduce your risk, CNN reported Sept. 16.

Simply put, you can protect against dementia by:

  • taking care of your heart
  • exercising
  • eating healthy
  • challenging your brain (such as by reading, doing crosswords, and other activities)
  • having an active social life

Alzheimer’s Disease International notes “persuasive evidence that dementia risk … can be modified through reduction in tobacco use and better control and detection for hypertension and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular risk factors.”

“If we can all enter old age with better developed, healthier brains, we are likely to live longer, happier and more independent lives, with a much reduced chance of developing dementia,” according to the 2014 World Alzheimer’s Report.

(Photo © yoohoojuju via Flickr)



Big Companies Get Behind Wellness

by Bob Curley on September 18, 2014

bpcA new coalition of major U.S. corporations is urging companies to adopt workplace wellness programs as a way to reduce national healthcare costs, Reuters reported Sept. 17.

Membership of the just-announced CEO Council on Health and Innovation includes Coca-Cola, Verizon, Aetna, Bank of America, Walgreen Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and the Institute for Advanced Health. The group was established under the auspices of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The group said that U.S. companies should establish wellness programs in order to improve worker nutrition and weight, promote physical activity, help employees quit smoking, and manage chronic diseases.

Officials said their own wellness programs have been successful, including significant cost savings over an extended period.



For Happiest Societies, Look South

by Bob Curley on September 18, 2014

Panamanian kids

Panamanian kids

Costa Rica and Panama score highest on an annual index of the world’s happiest places, while the United States doesn’t even crack the top 10, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

The Americas, overall, had the highest percentage of citizens considered “thriving” under at least three out of five of the Index’s well-being criteria: purpose, financial, social, community, and physical. One-third of people in North, South, and Central America — and especially those in Latin America — were thriving in at least three of these categories, compared to about one in six people worldwide.

Panama led the world in scores on five well-being indices: purpose, social, community, and physical well-being. The U.S. finished outside the top 10 in all six categories.

Countries with the lowest happiness scores included Syria and Afghanistan.

(Photo © Ben Kucinski via Flickr)

 

 



Are Your Kids Getting Preventive Services They Need?

by Bob Curley on September 18, 2014

Proper preventative care is not being delivered to many — and in some cases, most — American children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC researchers looked at 11 clinical preventive services:

  • prenatal breastfeeding counseling
  • newborn hearing screening and follow-up
  • developmental screening
  • lead screening
  • vision screening
  • hypertension screening
  • use of dental care and preventive dental services
  • human papillomavirus vaccination
  • tobacco use screening and cessation assistance
  • chlamydia screening
  • reproductive health services

doctorchildcheckupArmymedicineFlikrThey found that in the past year:

  • 79 percent of parents of children aged 10-47 months said that they were not asked by healthcare providers to complete a formal screen for developmental delays
  • 56 percent of children and adolescents did not visit the dentist
  • 86 percent of children and adolescents did not receive a dental sealant or a topical fluoride application
  • 47 percent of females aged 13-17 years had not received their recommended first dose of HPV vaccine
  • 31 percent of outpatient clinic visits made by 11- to 21-year-olds had no documentation of tobacco use status
  • 80 percent of youth who screened positive for tobacco use did not receive any cessation assistance
  • 24 percent of outpatient clinic visits for preventive care by 3- to 17-year-olds had no documentation of blood pressure measurement

“The Affordable Care Act requires new health insurance plans to provide certain clinical preventive services at no additional cost – with no copays or deductibles,” noted Lorraine Yeung, M.D., a medical epidemiologist with CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “Parents need to know that many clinical preventive services for their children, such as screening and vaccination, are available for free with many health plans.”

(Photo © Army Medicine via Flickr)

 



12,000 Deaths from Painkiller Overdoses in 2011

by Bob Curley on September 17, 2014

valiumbenzoMiranRijavecFlickrOverdoses on powerful narcotic painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin rose from about 3,000 in 1999 to about 12,000 in 2011, according to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

HealthDay News reported Sept. 16 that the only bit of good news in the report is that the increase in deaths has slowed somewhat. ”Although the rate is still increasing, it is not increasing quite as fast as it did between 2000 and 2006,” said researcher Holly Hedegaard of CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “From 1999 to 2006, the rate of deaths increased about 18 percent per year, but since 2006 it’s only increasing about 3 percent per year.”

Deaths from some types of drugs, like methadone, have declined, but there have been more overdoses involving benzodiazepines, which are sedatives used to treat conditions like anxiety and insomnia.

The increase in deaths was especially dramatic among people ages 55-64, and white Americans were increasingly likely to die from opioid overdoses.

Physician overprescribing was partly to blame, said Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing and chief medical officer at the Phoenix House Foundation. ”It’s not that doctors are intentionally causing an epidemic, but they are overprescribing painkillers, particularly for common chronic problems like lower back pain and headaches,” he said.

Ironically, whites may be dying in greater numbers because doctors are more cautious in prescribing such drugs to minorities out of fear of misuse or illicit diversion, said Kolodny.

(Photo © Miran Rijavec via Flickr)

 



Big Bellies Become the Norm in U.S.

by Bob Curley on September 17, 2014

Obesity-waist_circumferenceWikiThe average American waistline has expanded to 39 inches, NBC News reported Sept. 16.

That’s an average of 40 inches for men — up from 39 inches in 2011 — and 37.8 inches for women, up from 37.6, according to research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Abdominal obesity is defined as a 40.2-inch waist for men and 34.6 inches for women. Excess belly fat is associated with a wide variety of illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes.

Waistlines are expanding even as average body-mass index (BMI) has plateaued.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.



Study Finds 3.8 Million Fewer Uninsured in 2014

The population of Americans lacking health insurance coverage fell from 44.8 million last year to 41 million in early 2014, CNN reported Sept. 14. Concurrently, the uninsured rate fell from 14.4 percent to 13.1 percent. The survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics did not directly attribute […]

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Addiction Rehab Programs Focus on Nutrition

Many people addicted to alcohol or other drugs have poor diets, a problem that may persist well after they go into recovery from addiction. The New York Times reported Sept. 15 that some recovery programs are putting more emphasis on nutrition to help clients avoid unhealthy weight gain, which can also result from using sugar […]

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Want to Keep Your Teeth? Stop Eating So Much Sugar

There are many medical mysteries, but tooth decay isn’t one of them. Experts say there is just a single cause of tooth decay for adults and children: eating sugar. Time reported Sept. 16 that researchers found that just 2 percent of Nigerians whose diet includes no sugar had tooth decay, compared to 92 percent of […]

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Stressed Workers Often Check Out Mentally

More than half of workers who say they are stressed out at work report being disengaged from their job, compared to just one in 10 workers who say they have low levels of stress in the workplace. Forbes reported Sept. 11 that the research also found that about 30 percent of U.S. workers and 34 […]

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