News + Views

Protect Vision from Digital Devices


To Your Health








(Family Features) Digital communication has become an integral part of daily life. Smartphones and tablets are pocket-sized personal assistants with appointment reminders, news and a means of keeping in touch with family and friends. Living multi-screen lives may aide productivity, but eye health professionals are increasingly worried about the consequences of “digital vision.”

Over the past two years, time spent with digital devices has increased 49 percent, according to data from online measurement firm comScore. Handheld devices are leading the way: time using smartphones jumped 90 percent and tablets surged 64 percent.12905_a

However, some studies suggest all that time squinting at the phone may cause users to squint at everything else. Research housed through the Vision Impact Institute has shown that myopia (nearsightedness) is rapidly rising in East Asia, Europe and the United States, especially among younger people. Research is pointing to factors other than genetics, such as behavior and environment, as the cause of this epidemic of shortsightedness. The common denominator among these populations seems to be time spent using digital devices.

While not seeing distances clearly can be frustrating, even dangerous when driving, it can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses and refractive surgery. However, high myopia has been associated with a greater risk for ocular disorders, including retinal detachment, glaucoma and cataracts.

“We’re good about getting the annual physical and dental check-up, but often we aren’t as diligent about seeing the eye doctor once a year,” said Maureen Cavanagh, president of the Vision Impact Institute. “As we turn more and more of our daily routines over to digital devices, we need to place a greater emphasis on scheduling regular eye exams to correct problems such as myopia and monitor for associated risks.”

In addition, Cavanagh points to several small steps all digital users can take to make their devices healthier for their eyes:

* Make sure the settings are adequate – increase screen font size and improve the contrast. Always use good lighting but avoid glare on small screens.

* Exercise your eyes just as you exercise your body. Every few minutes, look up from the screen and focus on something in the distance. This exercise helps prevent eye strain and uses more of your ocular muscles. And don’t forget to take breaks occasionally.

* Get outside. Sunshine can be the antidote to digital vision, according to some research. While the sun’s role isn’t completely understood, an Australian study showed that children who spent more time outside playing in natural light had a lower rate of myopia. In China, schools are experimenting with classrooms made of transparent materials to help stem the nation’s epidemic of shortsightedness in young people.

Regardless of your age or how many digital devices you have, taking care of your eyes helps prevent vision problems and protects your overall eye health. Learn more at

Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Source: Vision Impact Institute

October 21, 2015 |

World Stroke Day – October 29


To Your Health









Sing the F.A.S.T. Song to Survive Stroke
American Stroke Association urges public to learn song on World Stroke Day, Oct. 29

As part of World Stroke Day on Oct. 29th, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is using the power of music to teach people the stroke warning signs and how to respond in a stroke emergency.

The new F.A.S.T. Song lyrics help people learn the most common warning signs of stroke and what to do if one occurs:sing to end stroke image 2015
If someone has a stroke near you, the F.A.S.T. song tells you what to do.
The letter “F,” it stands for face, if one half droops, no time to waste.
The letter “A” means an arm that’s weak, 
The letter “S” means it’s hard to speak.
The letter “T” means it’s time for 9-1-1, call right away so help will come.
Learn the song to show you care, and help end stoke each time you share.

Fewer than one in 10 people know what each F.A.S.T. letter means and one in three people can’t name any stroke signs, according to American Stroke Association studies.

To help the public get in tune with the stroke signs, the association has several styles of the song and complete lyrics available on  People are asked to share their favorite F.A.S.T. Song with family and friends on social media using #singFAST.

“Most of us can recall using song to memorize something in history class like U.S. states in alphabetical order or the preamble to the constitution. It’s fun and it really works. The same principle works for learning stroke signs,” said Rani Whitfield, M.D., American Stroke Association volunteer who is also known as Tha Hip Hop Doc.

Stroke is the world’s second-leading cause of death and No. About 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke every year. African-Americans have the highest stroke mortality and are less likely than whites to arrive within 3 hours and receive the clot-busting drug tPA. It’s also a leading cause of long-term disability – though largely treatable.

“Recognizing a stroke right away and calling 911 is the key when it comes to stroke,” said Jeffrey L. Saver, M.D., professor of neurology and director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the University of California Los Angeles. “We have many effective therapies to treat stroke, but there is a short window for the patient to be evaluated at a hospital and receive treatment like a clot-busting drug or clot-removal device.”

The F.A.S.T. Song and World Stroke Day campaign are part of the American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke initiative nationally sponsored by Medtronic. Together to End Stroke teaches Americans that stroke is largely preventable, treatable and beatable.

To learn more, visit To join and follow the conversation on social media, use #SingFAST.

About the American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke — the No. 2 cause of death in the world and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association was created in 1997 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.WorldStrokeDayImage2015

October 16, 2015 |

American Heart Association Releases New CPR Guidelines: quick action, more teamwork key to saving more lives


 To Your Health







People should continue to jump in quickly to give CPR, using breaths if they’ve been trained in CPR, and employing mobile technology to speed up the rescue of cardiac arrest victims, according to the American Heart Association’s 2015 Guidelines Update for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC).CPR ECC 2015 Guidelines cover image

The latest American Heart Association guidelines, published today in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, highlight how quick action, proper training, use of technology and coordinated efforts can increase survival from cardiac arrest. A leading cause of death in the United States, cardiac arrest is caused when the heart suddenly stops, usually due to an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat and disrupts blood flow through the body. Survival depends on immediate CPR and other actions starting with bystanders.

More than 326,000 people experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year and about 90 percent of them die, often because bystanders don’t know how to start CPR or are afraid they’ll do something wrong. The 2015 guidelines say high-quality CPR training for both bystanders and healthcare providers will help them feel more confident to act and provide better CPR to cardiac arrest victims. This guidelines update, which is intended to evolve CPR training, also recommends that all bystanders should act quickly and use mobile phones to alert dispatchers, with the ultimate goal of having immediate CPR given to all victims of cardiac arrest.

“Everyone has a role to play in the Chain of Survival – from bystanders to dispatchers, emergency responders to healthcare providers,” said Dr. Mark A. Creager, president of the American Heart Association and professor of medicine at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and director of the Heart and Vascular Center at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH. “When everyone knows their role, knows CPR and works together, we can dramatically improve cardiac arrest victims’ chances of survival.”

The AHA guidelines, which are based off the latest resuscitation research, have been published since 1966 to provide science-based recommendations for treating cardiovascular emergencies – particularly cardiac arrest in adults, children, infants and newborns. This 2015 update confirms known CPR recommendations with several quality enhancements to help save even more lives, including a range for the rate and depth of chest compressions during CPR. The last update to the guidelines was in 2010.

Key points from the 2015 Guidelines Update provides bystanders, dispatchers and communities with practical guidance to improve the effectiveness of their teamwork:
•    Untrained bystanders should still call 911 and provide Hands-Only CPR, or CPR without breaths, pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest to the rate of 100-120 compressions per minute. However, if the bystander is trained in CPR and can perform breaths, he or she should add breaths in a 30:2 compressions-to-breaths ratio.
•    Bystanders should use mobile phones to immediately call 911, placing the phones on speaker, so the dispatcher can help bystanders check for breathing, get the precise location and provide instructions for performing CPR.
•    Dispatchers should be trained to help bystanders check for breathing and recognize cardiac arrest. Dispatchers should also be aware that brief generalized seizures may be an early sign of cardiac arrest.Hands-Only

•    Mobile dispatch systems that notify potential rescuers of a nearby presumed cardiac arrest can improve the rate of bystander CPR and shorten the time to first chest compressions. Communities may want to consider this service to improve the chain of survival.
Improving Healthcare’s Systems of Care
Inside hospitals, CPR training is foundational to the lifesaving care healthcare systems provide, considering about 200,000 cardiac arrests occur in hospitals annually. Yet, research shows resuscitation skills can decline within a few months – far before the two-year current evaluation standard. Frequent training ensures hospitals are continuously evaluating how to deliver patients the highest quality of emergency cardiovascular care.
“The 2015 update calls for integrated systems of care that participate in continuous quality improvement and that provide a common framework for both community and healthcare-based resuscitation systems,” said Clifton Callaway, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the AHA’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care committee and professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. “We must create a culture of action that benefits the entire community in which it operates, inside and outside the hospital setting.”
In addition to strengthened systems of care, the guidelines recommendations for healthcare professionals are:
•    Upper limits of recommended heart rate and compression depth have been added, based on new data suggesting that excessive compression rate and depth are less effective. Rescuers should perform chest compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute and to a depth of at least 2 inches, avoiding excessive depths greater than 2.4 inches.
•    Targeted temperature management helps prevent brain degradation during post-cardiac arrest care. New evidence shows a wider range of temperatures are acceptable. Providers should select a temperature between 32-36 degrees Celsius and maintain it for at least 24 hours.
•    Healthcare providers are encouraged to simultaneously perform steps, like checking for breathing and pulse, in an effort to reduce the time to first chest compression.
•    There is insufficient evidence to routinely intubate newborns with poor breathing and muscle tone who have been born with meconium, infants’ first feces, in their amniotic fluid.  Instead, the new recommendation is to begin CPR under a radiant warmer to get oxygen to the infant faster.
For almost 50 years, the American Heart Association’s CPR and ECC guidelines have been used to train millions in CPR, first aid and advanced cardiovascular care around the world. These guidelines are based on an international evaluation process that involved hundreds of resuscitation scientists and experts worldwide who evaluated thousands of peer-reviewed publications.

This year’s update provides recommendations on the data where new evidence requires a systematic review, in part, due to a network of trainers who regularly implement the CPR and ECC guidelines and rely on the science to inform the most effective care. To further make the guidelines practical and adaptable to many audiences, the AHA is providing this year’s update in three forms: the full Guidelines Update, a Guidelines Highlights document summarizing key points, and a mobile-friendly, searchable website compendium of all the association’s scientific findings. Learn more at

# # #

About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from cardiovascular disease and stroke – America’s leading killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. A leader in resuscitation science, the organization trains over 17 million people per year in CPR, first aid and advanced cardiovascular care around the world through programs and awareness campaigns. To learn more or join us, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or any of our offices around the country, or visit












October 15, 2015 |

Tips to Keep Your Child with Diabetes Safe at School


To Your Health





(Family Features) Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children, according to Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, MACP, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Keeping children with diabetes safe during the school day and during school-sponsored activities requires communication and cooperation between the student, their parents or caregivers, the student’s health care team and school staff.12866_A

“Nobody knows your child’s day-to-day needs and how to respond to a diabetes emergency better than you,” Rodgers says. “That’s why it is so important to maintain open communication with school staff throughout the school year.”

Parents and school personnel can learn about effective ways to help keep children with diabetes safe by reviewing the National Diabetes Education Program’s (NDEP) Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel. The NDEP is a program of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The NDEP encourages parents of children with diabetes to follow these tips from the School Guide throughout the year.

* Take action. Notify the school immediately when your child is diagnosed with diabetes. Share your child’s medical information with school staff and provide up-to-date emergency contact numbers.
* Work with your child’s health care team to develop a Diabetes Medical Management Plan. This plan contains the medical orders for your child. It should be signed by your child’s health care team and submitted to the school nurse at the start of each school year. An updated plan is needed if there are changes in your child’s diabetes care plan during the year. A sample plan is included in NDEP’s School Guide.
* Meet with the school nurse to review your child’s school health care plans. The school nurse will use the medical orders to prepare your child’s routine and emergency diabetes care plans at school. You can find samples of these plans in the School Guide. You should also meet with the school nurse and staff to familiarize them with any specialized diabetes equipment that your child uses, such as an insulin (IN-suh-lin) pump and/or continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Remember to provide written instructions about the use of the equipment and troubleshooting guidelines.
* Provide the school with all supplies, medicines, and items needed to carry out your child’s health care and emergency plans. These supplies may include blood sugar (glucose) testing items, supplies for taking insulin, urine and blood ketone testing, snacks, quick-acting glucose products, and a glucagon (GLOO-kuh-gon) kit.

12866_BFor more information about keeping children with diabetes safe at school and to download or order a free copy of NDEP’s Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel, call 1-888-693-NDEP (1-888-693-6337), TTY: 1-866-569-1162 or visit

Article courtesy of: Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, MACP, Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (teacher with students)
Source: National Diabetes Education Program


October 14, 2015 |

Awareness Key to Treating Arterial Disease


To Your Health








Unknown symptoms keep patients from seeking preventive care

(Family Features) A lack of symptoms may be giving you a false sense of security about your health. In reality, there are several serious health conditions that can be asymptomatic, meaning your body doesn’t give you signals that something is wrong.

When it comes to peripheral arterial disease, for example, some patients feel pain or numbness in their legs. Other possible symptoms include dark or blue-tinged skin on the legs, and, for men, erectile dysfunction. Other patients notice none of these symptoms at all.   12801

A real health risk
According to researcher Jeffrey S. Berger, M.D., of New York University School of Medicine, patients who have peripheral arterial disease are more than three times as likely to have issues in their carotid artery, which can lead to stroke and ultimately brain damage.

Berger’s study, published in Atherosclerosis, a leading journal on arterial and vascular disease, was based on an anonymous review of 3.6 million Life Line Screening cases. While some patients were aware of a peripheral arterial disease diagnosis, others were not. Regardless, the majority was shown to have carotid artery stenosis, or more simply, constricted blood vessels leading to the brain.

“We’re pleased that we were able to contribute to such important work while maintaining patient confidentiality,” said Andrew Manganaro, chief medical officer of Life Line Screening. “It is the kind of research that heightens awareness of a critical medical issue.”

Screening for awareness
In fact, awareness was a major theme of the study. Berger concluded that patients who have received treatment and believe they are cured, or patients with no symptoms, may be at higher risk because they are not be adhering to appropriate lifestyle and medication therapies.

If you are exhibiting common symptoms of peripheral arterial disease, a simple, non-invasive screening can help gauge your arterial health. Symptoms include pain during exercise that is relieved during rest, cold legs, poor wound healing and constant leg pain, tingling, burning or loss of sensation.

Patients who have no symptoms but are at high risk for the disease should also consider an evaluation. Risk factors include family history, increasing age, smoking, high cholesterol, heavy alcohol consumption, poor diet, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity.

The peripheral arterial disease screening procedure, available through Life Line Screening, is done using the ankle-brachial index. After removing your socks and shoes, you will have pressure cuffs placed around your upper arms and ankles. A small ultrasound device will then measure the systolic blood pressure in your limbs.

In addition, a simple finger-stick measures three different kinds of lipids in the blood (HDL, LDL and triglycerides) as well as total cholesterol, which help determine arterial disease risk, and ultimately the risk of trouble with the carotid artery.

To learn more about screenings that can help identify your health risk for potentially asymptomatic diseases, visit

Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Source: Life Line Screening

October 7, 2015 |

Helpful Tips to Protect Your Hearing


To Your Health







(Family Features) Not only can noise distract, disturb and interfere with communication and sleep, it can affect your performance, behavior and hearing.

In many cases, hearing loss can be prevented by recognizing sources of damaging noise levels and using appropriate protective equipment. However, excessive noise exposure can cause permanent hearing loss that cannot be treated with medication, or result in constant ringing in your ears called tinnitus. Impaired hearing can reduce your ability to recognize your surroundings and listen for cues of potential danger.12793_A

Learn how to protect yourself from future hearing damage with this advice from Guard Your Health, a health education campaign by the Army National Guard:

* Know the safe volume limit to protect yourself from future hearing damage. Noise that is 0 to 80 decibels is generally safe, while noise that is 140 to 200 decibels can be dangerous.

* Noise that exceeds safe parameters, even if it’s under 140 decibels, can still cause damage to your hearing over time. A general rule of thumb is the “three feet rule.” If you have to shout to someone who is three feet away (about an arm’s length), the noise level in that location could be damaging.

* Be aware that a single exposure to a very loud sound (such as weapon fire) can cause permanent hearing loss.

* Using proper hearing protection for the environment can help prevent damage to your eardrum and hearing. There are several types of hearing protection devices available including foam earplugs, silicone earplugs and earmuffs. For example, when shooting at the gun range, noise-activated earplugs can help you avoid sudden eardrum rupture.

* Foam earplugs should be pinched when inserted, allowing the foam to expand in your ear until you achieve a tight, non-painful seal. Silicone earplugs should be inserted only until you feel a slight resistance to avoid damaging your inner ear. To wear ear plugs properly, straighten your ear by gripping the cartilage and stretching it away from your body. Insert the earplug then release your ear. Do a few jumping jacks to test the security of the earplugs; if they fall out, try again or get a smaller size.

* Earmuffs should rest about two finger widths from your jawbone and completely cover your ears for a tight seal on the side of your face.

If you notice signs of hearing problems, ask your doctor to test your hearing. Common symptoms include a muffled sound in your ears after leaving a noisy area or event such as a car race, concert, wood working or hunting; prolonged ringing or buzzing in your ears after exposure to noise; and difficulty understanding what people are saying although you can hear them talking.

For more health-related tools and information, visit

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (man plugging ears)
Source: Army National Guard


September 30, 2015 |

Sharpen Students’ Minds with Proper Nutrition


To Your Health






(Family Features) Bells will soon be ringing, and parents may experience a sense of dÈj‡ vu for the first several weeks of school. That’s because the early part of each new school year is commonly spent reversing the effect of “summer brain drain” – when kids lose skills they mastered the previous year.12788

According to a recent survey by DSM Nutritional Products and Pop Warner, 78 percent of parents are concerned about students’ difficulties retaining what they learned in school throughout the summer.

A majority of surveyed parents understand the role of nutrition in physical and academic performance, but don’t make the connection to nutrition’s role in preventing brain drain. While many parents encourage their children to take vitamins and minerals to supplement nutrition, nearly half admit they aren’t clear about which nutrients support children’s brain health.

What’s more, maintaining a well-rounded and healthy diet and taking vitamins and other essential nutrients that support brain health ranked significantly lower than other strategies parents use to prevent brain drain, such as sports and academic activities.

Nutrition plays an important role in brain health year-round, says Elizabeth Somer, a nationally acclaimed registered dietitian, nutritionist and author. To help keep your students’ minds sharp as they head back to school, consider these tips from Somer:

Eat fatty fish twice a week for dinner or supplement omega-3s. Omega-3s are highly concentrated in the brain and important to brain health, yet according to research published in the British Medical Journal, the average American diet contains less omega-3s from seafood than most other developed countries. Children and adults should get the recommended two servings of fatty fish, such as salmon, per week.

Offer a variety of healthy food options in the house. Giving children choices teaches them to take care of their bodies and empowers them to make better food decisions in the future. Stock the kitchen with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, such as baby carrots, berries and bananas for snacks, and broccoli, green peas and mashed sweet potatoes for dinner. The nutrients in these foods are important for the brain. Along with calcium, low-fat milk supplies vitamin D, which is a nutrient essential for brain development.

Consider taking a multivitamin. No one eats perfectly. It is important to talk with your physician or registered dietitian about whether you or your children could benefit from a multivitamin. According to research published in The Journal of Nutrition, only 10 percent of Americans get the nutrients they need from their food, and supplementation can help fill that gap.

Visit to learn more about the important role of essential nutrients for health and wellness.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Source: DSM

September 23, 2015 |
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