Category Archives: Health

“The 17th Century Guide to Sleep” -History Today

“Despite the modern obsession with a good night’s rest, more of us are sleeping less. Perhaps we should pay attention to the advice of early modern doctors.”14.40.611“Detail from A Maid Asleep by Johannes Vermeer, c.1656–57.”

by Katharine A. Craik

Sleep is an urgent topic for neuroscientists and now more than ever is known about its crucial importance for concentration and memory formation. Despite all this, the western world spends fewer and fewer hours asleep. With human interaction increasingly taking place in timeless virtual spaces, our time spent asleep is shortening and our working days are lengthening, with profound implications for the quality of the lives we lead. In particular, the impact of light-emitting screens upon the circadian rhythms, so essential to well-being, are only just becoming apparent. A similar debate took place during the Enlightenment when artificial lighting offered many people the novel opportunity to manipulate their hours of wakeful productivity. But the origins of sleep science lie centuries earlier, in Renaissance theories about the body’s sensitivity to light and darkness.

“The science of sleep was developing rapidly in the 17th century, when rest was regarded as one of the core factors for maintaining good health, along with other essential ‘non-naturals’ such as air, food and drink. Most writers agreed that the optimum quantity of sleep lay somewhere between seven and nine hours and that its health-giving benefits were many and varied. The medical literature of the time however suggests that people – then as now – were often plagued by slumber’s elusiveness.”

Click here to read this article in its entirety at History Today.

 

How Farmers Markets Help End Hunger in PA

farmers markets

Farmers markets are bringing more fresh, local produce to the doorsteps of low-income neighborhoods by giving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients the power to purchase nutritious food with their EBT cards.

In 2017, 7,377 farmers and farmers markets accepted SNAP benefits across the United States, providing low-income consumers with access to fresh, healthy foods, while helping local farmers. Find a participating farmers market near you.

From June through November, the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs provide low-income seniors and eligible participants in the WIC program with vouchers to purchase Pennsylvania-grown fruits, vegetables, and fresh-cut herbs from approved farm markets and farm stands across the commonwealth.

Read these related articles:

SOURCE: news release

“Alan Alda living with Parkinson’s – a neurologist explains treatment advances” – The Conversation

aldaAlan Alda at en event in New York City, May 23, 2017. Diego Corredor/AP Photo

“For many, hearing the word ‘Parkinson’s’ conjures an image of tremors. But Parkinson’s disease, brought about by loss of nerve and other brain cells, is actually an incredibly complex movement disorder that can cause symptoms as wide-ranging as smell loss, thinking issues, depression and swallowing problems. More than 1.5 million people in the U.S. have the illness, and millions more loved ones and caregivers are affected by it, too.

“Actor Alan Alda announced July 31 that he is one of those. Alda has been living with Parkinson’s for more than a year. He stressed in his announcement that he has been living a full and happy life.

“He is not alone. Thanks to medical advances and better treatments, both patients and physicians understand that Parkinson’s is a livable disease, and that people with this condition can be happy, healthy and successful.”

Continue reading this article at The Conversation, click here.

All public housing will become smoke-free this week

non smoking

Public housing nationwide is set to go smoke-free this week. Under a 2017 rule issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, all public housing in the U.S. must have a smoke-free policy in place by July 31.

That ban includes all combustible tobacco products and applies to all residences, offices, and outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and office buildings. Public health groups have cheered the rule and HUD’s work over the past year with local housing agencies to help public housing units make the transition. But some experts have also raised concerns about whether people who live in public housing have adequate access to smoking cessation treatment.

“HUD’S SMOKE-FREE PUBLIC HOUSING RULE: AN OVERVIEW”

Lebanon Family Health Services is one area agency that offers FREE tobacco cessation programs.

Other FREE tobacco cessation programs are:

“Heat-related health dangers for older adults soar during the summer”

National Institute of Health tips help reduce risk of hyperthermia.

As we age, our ability to adequately respond to summer heat can become a serious problem. Older people are at significant increased risk of heat-related illnesses, known collectively as hyperthermia, during the summer months. Hyperthermia can include heat stroke, heat edema (swelling in your ankles and feet when you get hot), heat syncope (sudden dizziness after exercising in the heat), heat cramps, and heat exhaustion.

HEAT

Experts at the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, say knowing which health-related factors may increase risk could save a life. Those factors include:

  • Age-related changes to the skin such as poor blood circulation and inefficient sweat glands
  • Heart, lung, and kidney diseases, as well as any illness that causes general weakness or fever
  • High blood pressure or other conditions that require changes in diet, such as salt-restricted diets
  • Reduced sweating, caused by medications such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and certain heart and blood pressure drugs
  • Taking several drugs for various conditions (It is important, however, to continue to take prescribed medication and discuss possible problems with a physician.)
  • Being substantially overweight or underweight
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Being dehydrated

Lifestyle factors can also increase risk, including extremely hot living quarters, lack of transportation, overdressing, visiting overcrowded places, and not understanding how to respond to weather conditions.

Older people, particularly those at special risk, should stay indoors on particularly hot and humid days, especially when there is an air pollution alert in effect. To stay cool, drink plenty of fluids and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes in natural fabrics. People without fans or air conditioners should keep their homes as cool as possible or go someplace cool. Senior centers, religious groups, and social service organizations in many communities provide cooling centers when the temperatures rise. Or visit public air conditioned places such as shopping malls, movie theaters, or libraries.

Heat stroke is a severe form of hyperthermia that occurs when the body is overwhelmed by heat and unable to control its temperature. Someone with a body temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit is likely suffering from heat stroke. Symptoms include fainting; a change in behavior (confusion, combativeness, staggering, possible delirium or coma); dry, flushed skin and a strong, rapid pulse; and lack of sweating. Seek immediate medical attention for a person with any of these symptoms, especially an older adult.

If you suspect that someone is suffering from a heat-related illness:

  • Call 911 if you suspect heat stroke.
  • Get the person out of the heat and into a shady, air-conditioned or other cool place. Urge them to lie down.
  • If the person can swallow safely, offer fluids such as water and fruit or vegetable juices, but not alcohol or caffeine.
  • Apply a cold, wet cloth to the wrists, neck, armpits, and groin. These are places where blood passes close to the surface of the skin, and a cold cloth can help cool the blood.
  • Encourage the person to shower, bathe, or sponge off with cool water if it is safe to do so.

If you are having a hard time paying for home cooling and heating costs, there are some resources that might help. Contact the National Energy Assistance Referral service(link is external), your local Area Agency on Aging(link is external), senior center, or social service agency.

To learn more, go to Hot Weather Safety for Older Adults. Free publications on hot weather safety and other healthy aging topics in English and Spanish are available from the NIA website or by calling NIA’s toll-free number: 1-800-222-2225.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

“Sepsis is the third leading cause of death. Can a new blood test change that?” – STAT

SepsisRonnie Roberts spends his spare time handing out leaflets on the dangers of sepsis. He lost his fiancee, Dorice Broughton, to sepsis in 2015. Aram Boghosian for STAT

In his spare time, when he feels up to it, Ronnie Roberts walks through hospital parking lots slipping informational flyers onto every windshield.

“Roberts wants people to know the signs of sepsis, the body’s overwhelming response to a blood infection, which can lead to organ failure and even death. If he had known the signs and insisted that his fiancee was treated appropriately, he believes she’d still be alive.

“Sepsis kills over 250,000 people a year in the United States — more than any cause other than cancer and heart disease. But still, many people have never heard of it. And hospitals often fail to notice the warning signs when a patient is spiraling downward.”

Read this article in at STAT.

 

“The latest blood pressure guidelines: What they mean for you” – The Conversation

new blood pressureNew blood pressure guidelines from the American Heart Association. CC BY-SA

by John Warner

Updated blood pressure guidelines from the American Heart Association mean that many more Americans, notably older people, are now diagnosed with high blood pressure, or hypertension. This may sound like bad news, but the new guidelines highlight some important lessons we cardiologists and heart health researchers have learned from the latest blood pressure studies. Specifically, we have learned that damage from high blood pressure starts at much lower blood pressures than previously thought and that it is more important than ever to start paying attention to your blood pressure before it starts causing problems.

“High blood pressure accounts for more heart disease and stroke deaths than all other preventable causes, except smoking.”

Read this article in its entirety at The Conversation.

“Will We Still Be Relevant ‘When We’re 64’?” – Kaiser Health News

when I'm 64Click here to listen to The Beatles song, “When I’m Sixty-four” while you read this article.

by Sharon Jayson

“A gnawing sense of irrelevancy and invisibility suddenly hits many aging adults, as their life roles shift from hands-on parent to empty nester or from workaholic to retiree. Self-worth and identity may suffer as that feeling that you matter starts to fade. Older adults see it in the workplace when younger colleagues seem uninterested in their feedback. Those who just retired might feel a bit unproductive.

New research suggests this perception of becoming irrelevant is very real. And that’s why some seniors are determined to stay social, remain relevant and avert the loneliness often linked with aging.

“As people get older, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to feel like they make a difference and matter … ”

Click here to read this Kaiser Health News article in its entirety.

“Opiate addiction and the history of pain and race in the US” – The Conversation

painPain of the sick: ‘Anatomy of Expression,’ by Sir Charles Bell, 1806. Wellcome Collection

“‘I have had little or no sleep, owing to the tooth ache or rather stump ache,’Elizabeth Drinker wrote in her diary one night in 1796. ‘One of my Eye teeth very sore, my face much swelled and painful.’

“Drinker, a white woman from a prominent family in Philadelphia, filled her diary with comments like this. Disease was rampant in those days, and injuries often didn’t heal properly. Food was frequently spoiled, leading to painful stomach problems. Cavities and severe gum disease were common. These and other problems meant that pain – severe, intractable pain – was an ordinary part of daily life.

“Of course, many people suffered far more than Elizabeth Drinker. Slaves, in particular, were forced to perform long hours of grueling work, and their injuries and illnesses were often left untreated. They also suffered from brutal physical punishment.”

Click here to continue reading this article at The Conversation.

 

SAMHSA announces $930 million funding opportunity to combat the opioid crisis

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is now accepting applications for $930 million in State Opioid Response Grants. SAMHSA will distribute funds to states and territories in support of their ongoing efforts to provide prevention, treatment and recovery support services to individuals with opioid use disorder.

The State Opioid Response Grants aim to address the opioid crisis by increasing access to evidence-based medication-assisted treatment, reducing unmet treatment need and reducing opioid-related overdose deaths. “This large new grant program reflects President Trump’s deep commitment to fighting the opioid crisis, and will provide extra support for the hardest-hit states,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “It demonstrates the emphasis we place on expanding access to treatment that works, especially medication-assisted treatment with appropriate social supports.”

The grants will be awarded to the states and territories using a formula specified in the funding announcement. Fifteen percent of the total funds will be set aside to provide extra support to states that have been hardest hit by the crisis. States and territories will use the grants to design plans and conduct activities across the spectrum of prevention, treatment, and recovery.

These prevention, treatment, and recovery activities represent a comprehensive response to the opioid crisis and include action at the federal, state and local levels. “The State Opioid Response Grants were designed to meet the specific needs of communities within each state and territory,” explained Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz. “The grants will expand capacity to provide much needed evidence-based care to people who haven’t yet been reached.”

Under President Trump, in April 2017, HHS unveiled a new five-point Opioid Strategy. The Strategy prioritizes efforts in five areas: 1) Improving access to prevention, treatment and recovery support services, including medication-assisted treatment; 2) Promoting the targeted availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs; 3) Strengthening public health data reporting and collection; 4) Supporting cutting-edge research on addiction and pain and 5) Advancing the practice of pain management. Over fiscal years 2017 and 2018, HHS will invest over $4 billion in opioid-specific funding, including funds to state and local governments as well as tribal, public, and nonprofit organizations to support treatment and recovery services, target availability of overdose-reversing drugs, train first responders and more.

 

For more information on how to apply, see https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/grant-announcements/ti-18-015.