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Explore a Common Lung Disease for National COPD Awareness Month

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Nov 7, 2015 10:30:00 AM

National COPD Awareness Month

For National COPD Awareness Month, explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, an advanced lung disease.More than 11 million people in the United States are known to have the advanced lung disease chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Moreover, experts believe that many more may not be diagnosed. This common condition, the third leading cause of death in the US, inhibits the flow of air into and out of the lungs, making it harder to breathe over time.

COPD cannot be reversed, and there is currently no cure. However, with early detection, proper treatment, and some lifestyle changes, patients can slow its progression and breathe their best. For National COPD Awareness Month this November, learn more about this disease, signs to watch out for, and the number-one thing that patients can do to better manage their condition.

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Topics: Smoking

Health News Round-Up: ‘Genetic Counseling’ to Comprehend Cancer Risks

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Oct 14, 2015 4:38:51 PM

What Does My Genetic Test Tell Me? Genetic Counseling Can Explain

Recent health news from across the Web: specialized support for genetic testing, a fresh quit-smoking option, hypoglycemia dangers, and more.Genetics can tell us a lot, so long as we understand how to interpret them. In some cases, our genes can make us vulnerable to certain inherited diseases. One such example is breast cancer; mutations in the BRCA gene family are linked to 5-10% of all cases (and up to 15% of ovarian cancer cases). Genetic testing has made it possible to determine whether a person carries a specific mutation. Yet taking such a test — especially if the result is positive — could raise more anxieties than it puts to rest. The specialized field of genetic counseling is one way to fill knowledge gaps and help individuals understand what results they may receive, and what exactly that means for their health and future risk.

A recent study found that of women who elected to undergo testing for BRCA mutations, few were offered genetic counseling. However, those who received the service reported better understanding of their personal results and more satisfaction with the knowledge they gained. As the cost of these tests lowers to more affordable levels and more people may choose to take them as a predictive measure, it may not be feasible for all patients to access genetic counseling (which is covered as a preventive service under the Affordable Care Act). But for some, especially individuals with a strong family history of an inheritable disease, it may be worth requesting more information or asking a doctor or specialist whether genetic counseling before getting tested would be a good idea.

(Genetic counseling is rare among BRCA-tested women; Reuters)

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Topics: Dementia, Caregiving, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Smoking, Financial Health, Cancer, Advanced Care Planning

Health News Round-Up: Building a Better Place Setting for Dementia

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Sep 15, 2015 3:03:45 PM

Engineering Easier Eating and Drinking for Cognitive Decline

Both the visual recognition of food and the motor skills needed to consume it can become barriers to proper nourishment.Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect more than thinking and memory; as cognitive decline progresses, patients may struggle to eat and drink. Both the visual recognition of food and the motor skills needed to consume it can become barriers to proper nourishment. One designer, after seeing her own grandmother struggle with her food, set out to assist. Sha Yao scoured available research and field-tested a line of bowls, spoons, and cups, which feature bright, contrasting colors and precisely engineered shapes.

The resulting tableware prototypes, dubbed ‘Eatwell,’ placed first in the 2013-2014 Stanford Design Challenge. Since that time, Yao has been pursuing resources to make Eatwell a reality for patients worldwide, and press has been growing as that goal reaches completion. The project was funded by more than 1,000 contributors via an Indiegogo campaign, and an update on the fundraising site reports that Eatwell is on track to begin shipping pre-orders by late September.

(Tableware designed for Alzheimer’s patients; CNN)

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Topics: Hospice, Dementia, Health News, Nutrition, Heart Disease, Smoking

Health News Round-Up: Combating Cancer from a New Research Angle

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Sep 2, 2015 1:52:24 PM

Cancer Research Suggests a New Genetic Frontier in Treatment

Nurse Performing Genetic Testing Previously, treating a patient’s cancer meant treating the type of cancer: breast, prostate, skin, etc. Some types call for specialized surgeries, others for specifically developed medications, others for finely tuned chemotherapy or radiation regimens. But the field of cancer research is changing, with efforts increasingly focused on the genes that cause the cancer or help it to spread. And thanks to a new drug trial, reportedly the first of its kind, this approach could be gaining traction.

Previous findings had uncovered a common gene mutation found in both skin cancer and lung cancer. Researchers hypothesized that because of this similarity, a drug already approved for skin cancer might have a crossover effect on the other cancer type. Indeed, a substantial proportion of lung cancer patients responded to the drug. Other cancer types did not exhibit such promising results, which may be the result of fewer of those patients having the targeted mutation — the key may be narrowing down the right commonalities. Future studies along these lines are already in the works, and signs are pointing to new, more specific cancer treatments that are based on gene mutation rather than type.

(First trial targeting mutation, not cancer type, gives mixed results; Reuters)

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Topics: Caregiving, Health News, Nutrition, Stroke, Heart Disease, Smoking, Financial Health, Cancer, Fitness, Advanced Care Planning

Health News Round-Up: Cardiac Health Gains and Heart Attack Response

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Jul 8, 2015 10:59:00 AM

The Latest in Heart Health and Treatment

Recent health news from across the web: a heart attack primer, insulin gets smart, the evidence on medical marijuana’s effectiveness, and more.Thanks to advances in comprehension and communication, emergency treatments for heart attacks are becoming ever faster and more effective. In the case of a heart attack, a speedy response can be lifesaving. This is why emergency response teams have evolved to assess and alert medical staff while still on the road, and hospitals and emergency doctors continue to refine treatment protocols in search of faster ways to open blockages and restore blood flow. This recent New York Times article offers a wealth of information about heart attacks, including step-by-step infographics. The simple question-and-answer style clearly describes heart attack symptoms to watch for and spells out the swift, critical actions to take if they appear.

(A Possibly Lifesaving Guide to Heart Attacks; New York Times)

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Topics: Hospice, Diabetes, Aging In Place, Nutrition, Stroke, Heart Disease, Smoking