The Ultimate High-Fiber Grocery List

SOURCES:

Harvard Health Publications: “11 Foods That Lower Cholesterol.”

American Heart Association: “Whole Grains and Fiber.”

Harvard School of Public Health: “Fiber: Start Roughing It!”

Colorado State University Extension: “Dietary Fiber.”

National Women’s Health Resource Center: “How Much Fiber should I Have in My Daily Diet?”

Continuum Health Partners: “Dietary Fiber.”

USDA: “Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.”

AMA: “Sec. 13 Dietary Management of Hypertriglyceridemia.”

Newton Ask a Scientist: “Vegetable vs. Grains.”

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Slim Down for Lower Numbers

When you have a lot to lose before hitting your goal weight, success may feel far away. Here’s a win within reach — lose 5% of your total weight to lower your chance of having a heart attack or stroke. When you do, you’ll:

  • Reduce your triglyceride levels by as much as 20%
  • Reduce your LDL “bad” cholesterol by 15%
  • Increase your HDL “good” cholesterol by 8%

Pick Three. Choose three of the tasks below to start today. Pick the ones you think will be easiest for you to accomplish. Give yourself a couple of weeks to make a habit. Then, pick three more to work on. Taking this approach is easier to master for most people and helps you gain confidence early on.

Recommended Related to Cholesterol Management

Do You Really Need a Statin to Lower Cholesterol?

Your doctor says to take a statin to lower your cholesterol. You’re not convinced. Maybe you don’t think your cholesterol levels are that bad. Or, that you can try harder to eat right and exercise. Perhaps you just don’t want to take another medicine every day.   High cholesterol levels have a direct impact on your risk of heart attack and stroke, so you don’t want to make a hasty decision. Make sure your concerns are valid before you reject a statin — their benefits to your heart are notewor…

Read the Do You Really Need a Statin to Lower Cholesterol? article > >

Cook at home. Make this your first step you toward losing weight, and you will notice a difference. The less you eat at restaurants, the more weight you lose in the first six months.  

Give drinks a makeover. One proven weight loss strategy is to cut way down on sugary beverages. If you find water boring, jazz it up! Try adding strawberries and mint leaves or lemon and basil. For the tastiest results, let the flavors chill in the pitcher for a few hours.

Reduce how often you eat dessert. A powerful predictor of weight loss is how frequently you eat dessert.   

Choose healthy eats. It’s all about what you eat. Fill up your plate with veggies and fruits, and enjoy as much as you want. Upping your fruit and vegetable servings to over five a day is a top tactic for weight loss.

Here’s a combo that can reduce triglycerides another 10%:

  • Eat fewer items with added sugar or fructose.
  • Choose unsaturated fats more often — vegetable oils, fish, and nuts.

Right-size your snacks. It turns out those 100-calorie snack bags are a real weight-loss winner for folks trying to lose. People who eat from a snack-sized bag typically eat half as many calories as people who eat from a larger package. If your favorite snack doesn’t come packaged this way, split a large bag into several smaller baggies.

Substitute fish for meat. Boost fish servings to about five to six a month, and eat about ½ ounce less of meat and cheese every day. (That’s not much, right?) This recipe for success pairs up to promote long-term weight loss.

Do the ingredients shuffle. Swap out just a few high-calorie ingredients for a lower-calorie counterpart, for instance:

  • Instead of ground beef, use half as much meat and make up the difference in bulk with finely chopped veggies like eggplant, mushrooms, and peppers.  
  • For baked desserts, replace half the butter or margarine with applesauce.
  • In cake or cookies, replace 1 ounce of baking chocolate with ¼ cup of cocoa.

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Boost the Results of Triglycerides Meds

Give your treatment a fighting chance.

So, it’s happened. Your doctor gave you a prescription for medicines to lower your cholesterol or triglyceride levels. If you’ve been trying hard to keep your levels down with a healthy diet and exercise, you might feel discouraged.

Take heart; needing medicine doesn’t mean you’ve failed. But, you do have a key role in helping the medicines do their job.

Ask Questions at the Doctor’s Office

When it comes to your health, there’s no such thing as a silly or unimportant question. Ask these questions any time you start a new medicine:

  • Why do you need it and what does it do?
  • When should you take it?
  • Are there foods you shouldn’t eat?
  • How will you know it’s working?
  • What side effects can you expect?

Talk with your doctor about what numbers are the healthiest. And, ask what you can reasonably expect your medicines to do. Talk about how your lifestyle changes can contribute, and how long it might take to see results.

Be Alert at the Pharmacy

  • Use the same pharmacy for all prescriptions. Even try to see the same pharmacist if you can. Both of these actions help ensure you don’t take two or more medicines that can have dangerous interactions.   
  • Review all the medicines you’re taking with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you still need them.  Put everything you take in a bag — not just prescriptions, but over-the-counter remedies like cold medicine, aspirin, vitamins, and supplements.

At Home: Take Meds, Exercise, and Repeat

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed . You’re more likely to remember them if you take them at the same time every day. Your doctor may tell you a specific time, or you may be able to choose. A wristwatch or cell phone alarm can remind you when it’s time to take a pill, or you can ask a family member to help.  
  • Stick with healthy habits. Taking medicine to lower cholesterol or triglycerides isn’t a license to eat doughnuts and lie on the couch. Meds are most effective when you combine their efforts with a healthy lifestyle. So set reachable goals and keep increasing them. Feeling successful is one of the best incentives to commit to a healthy eating plan and exercise routine.  
  • Track your progress. Keep track of your commitment to take meds and continue other healthy habits to stay motivated. Check out Heart360, the American Heart Association’s cardiovascular wellness center. It lets you track and even share your results online with your doctor.  
  • Commit to staying on your treatment.Even if your cholesterol and triglyceride numbers improve, keep taking your medicine unless your doctor says otherwise. Maintaining your healthy numbers means not skipping doses, exercise, or healthy meals.
  • Keep your doctor in the loop. That’s what follow-up appointments are for. Use that time to talk about side effects you’re noticing and how bothersome they are. If anything comes up before that appointment that makes it difficult for you to continue the medicine, don’t wait — call your doctor.

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Debate Over Antidepressants in Pregnancy Ongoing

Oct. 31, 2012 — The debate over the safety of antidepressants during pregnancy has been going on for a long time, and a new review may keep the debate alive a while longer.

The research review finds little evidence that the most widely prescribed class of antidepressants benefits pregnant women and growing evidence that they cause harm.

But one expert calls the findings “nonsense.”

Investigators of the review concluded that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants should be prescribed “with great caution” during pregnancy.

They point to studies that have linked SSRI in pregnancy to preterm birth, miscarriage, and autism and developmental delays.

“We have never before in human history chemically altered fetal development in the way that we have done with these drugs,” says researcher and ob-gyn Adam Urato, MD, of Boston’s Tufts Medical Center and the Metro West Medical Center. “This is a massive experiment and we don’t know what the outcome will be.”

Review Is ‘Nonsense,’ Doctor Says

But psychiatrist Kimberly Yonkers, MD, calls the reviewers’ conclusion that women who are pregnant and depressed do not benefit from SSRIs “nonsense.”

Yonkers is a professor of psychiatry and obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University, and she served on a 2009 joint panel of psychiatrists and obstetricians that established guidelines for the treatment of depression during pregnancy.

“For many women with severe major depression, treatment with an antidepressant is not optional, just like treatment with insulin is not optional for a woman with (type 1) diabetes,” she says. “To give these women the message that treatment is optional and that it doesn’t work anyway does us all a disservice.”

Millions of Pregnant Women Have Taken SSRIs

Since the introduction of Prozac in 1987, millions of pregnant women have taken SSRI antidepressants. They are the most prescribed drugs among people aged 18-44.

Women who have trouble getting pregnant and who are being treated for infertility may be especially vulnerable to depression, says review co-author Alice Domar, PhD, who is executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Boston IVF.

When she analyzed electronic data from the center, she found that around 1 in 10 infertility patients were taking an SSRI for depression.

Domar, who is a psychologist, says she has long suspected that antidepressant use is linked to lower pregnancy rates among women undergoing infertility treatments.

But she acknowledges that there is little research to show this because few of the studies of antidepressant use have involved infertile women.

SSRIs Linked to Worse Birth Outcomes?

Domar says there is mounting evidence linking SSRI use during pregnancy with poor birth outcomes, including miscarriage, early delivery, and a rare but potentially life-threatening condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension.

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Accurate HIV Sensor Ten Times Cheaper Than Any Other

Editor’s Choice
Academic Journal
Main Category: HIV / AIDS
Also Included In: Medical Devices / Diagnostics;  Infectious Diseases / Bacteria / Viruses
Article Date: 30 Oct 2012 – 14:00 PDT

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Accurate HIV Sensor Ten Times Cheaper Than Any Other

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Scientists have developed an ultra-sensitive sensor for doctors to detect viral infections, such as HIV, as well as cancers in their early stages, with the naked eye.

The researchers, from Imperial College London, reported on their prototype sensor in Nature Nanotechnology.

According to the authors, their sensor is ten times more sensitive at measuring biomarkers than anything available today for current gold standard practice.

The sensors are extremely cheap and easy to use, and will be useful in countries where sophisticated equipment is in short supply.

The prototype’s great advantages are twofold:

  • Price – it costs about one tenth of anything else on the market today.
  • It can detect diseases early on, so that patients can be treated in the early stages.

Cheap saliva tests are already available for detecting HIV infection. However, they can only detect the virus when blood concentrations are high.

A trial was carried out to see how well the sensor could detect p24 in blood samples. P24 is a biomarker which points towards HIV infection.

Professor Molly Stevens, who works at the Department of Materials and Bioengineering, Imperial College London, said:

“It is vital that patients get periodically tested in order to assess the success of retroviral therapies and check for new cases of infection. Unfortunately, the existing gold standard detection methods can be too expensive to be implemented in parts of the world where resources are scarce.

Our approach affords for improved sensitivity, does not require sophisticated instrumentation and it is ten times cheaper, which could allow more tests to be performed for better screening of many diseases.”

They also tested for PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen), a biomarker which is commonly used for helping doctors diagnose prostate cancer.

It is possible to reconfigure the sensor, the scientists say, so that it can be used for detecting other diseases and viruses.

The prototype sensor analyzes serum, derived from blood, which is placed in a disposable container. Serum is a clear fluid derived from blood samples.

If the marker is present in the serum, it alters the course of a chemical reaction. If the samples contain p24, a chemical reaction takes place which makes tiny gold particles clump together irregularly, giving a distinctive blue color to the solution in the container. If PSA or p24 levels are not abnormal, the nanoparticles separate into little balls, creating a reddish color.

In both cases, positive and negative results, the reactions in the container can be seen with the naked eye – all you have to do is look at the color of the liquid.

Even in cases where HIV infected patients had low viral loads of p24, the sensor detected them – this is not possible with existing tests, such as ELISA (Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay), nor with the nucleic acid based test.

Co-author, Dr. Roberto de la Rica, said that their prototype will hopefully be able to detect previously undetectable HIV infections and indicators of cancer. If people can be diagnosed sooner and treated sooner, their prognosis improves considerably. Dr de la Rica said “this could pave the way for more widespread use of HIV testing in poorer parts of the world.”

The team will be looking for funding from not-for-profit global health organizations. Their aim is to enable low income countries to have access to this extremely economical and accurate sensor.

Written by Christian Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today

Visit our hiv / aids section for the latest news on this subject.
“Plasmonic ELISA for the ultrasensitive detection of disease biomarkers with the naked eye”
Roberto de la Rica & Molly M. Stevens
Nature Nanotechnology (2012) doi:10.1038/nnano.2012.186
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Health Costs For Seniors In Canada Rising Slowly: Points Way To Medicare Solvency

Main Category: Seniors / Aging
Also Included In: Medicare / Medicaid / SCHIP;  Primary Care / General Practice
Article Date: 31 Oct 2012 – 0:00 PDT

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Health Costs For Seniors In Canada Rising Slowly: Points Way To Medicare Solvency

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A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine finds that per capita Medicare spending on the elderly has grown nearly three times faster in the United States than in Canada since 1980. (Canada’s program, which covers all Canadians, not just the elderly, is also called Medicare.) Cost grew more slowly in Canada despite a 1984 law banning co-payments and deductibles.

In the first study of its kind, Dr. David U. Himmelstein and Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, professors at the City University of New York’s School of Public Health, analyzed decades of detailed Medicare spending data for persons aged 65 and older in the U.S. and Canada.

After adjusting for inflation, the authors found U.S. Medicare spending per elderly enrollee rose 198.7 percent from 1980 through 2009. In Canada, the comparable figure was 73 percent.

According to the authors, the findings have important implications for the debate on how to save Medicare. “Had U.S. Medicare spending per elderly enrollee increased as slowly as in Canada, the savings from 1980 through 2009 would have totaled $2.156 trillion,” said Himmelstein. “That’s equivalent to more than one-sixth of the U.S. national debt.”

The new findings appear in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a leading medical journal published by the American Medical Association. The article, which takes the form of a research letter, includes supplementary analyses based on less detailed data showing that the U.S. could have reaped even larger savings – nearly $3 trillion – from 1971 to 2009.

The article cites several reasons for Canada’s better record on cost containment: Less paperwork and administrative bloat throughout their health system (administrative costs account for 16.7 percent of total health spending vs. 31 percent in the U.S.); the use of lump-sum budgets for hospitals; stringent controls on spending for new buildings and expensive new equipment; the use of single-buyer purchasing power to rein in drug and device prices; relatively low litigation and malpractice costs; and an emphasis on primary care.

Woolhandler commented: “In a nutshell, including the elderly in a universal, nonprofit, publicly administered single-payer system has been the key to Canada’s cost control. Although U.S. Medicare is often called a single-payer system, that’s not quite accurate. It’s true that traditional Medicare is relatively efficient – only about 2 percent of its budget goes to administration, according the most recent trustees’ report, versus about 14 percent for privately run Medicare managed-care plans – but Medicare is only one of many health care payers in the United States.

“As a result,” Woolhandler said, “doctors’ and hospitals’ administrative costs are inflated by having to deal with a multitude of payers and by having to track eligibility, attribute costs and bill for individual services. This extra paperwork and bureaucracy is a major contributor to rising costs in the U.S., and these costs spill over into the relatively efficient Medicare program.

“In contrast, Canada’s single-payer system is much more streamlined and lean throughout, with big dividends for clinical care.”

The article cites several studies that show clinical outcomes in Canada are as good if not better than in the U.S.

The article notes that some U.S. politicians advocate replacing traditional Medicare with vouchers that seniors could use to buy private coverage. Still others advocate offering incentives for health providers to limit care. Yet none of these proposals have proven themselves to be effective in containing costs, the authors write.

“Canada’s road-tested cost containment methods offer an alternative,” they say.

In addition to their positions at CUNY, Himmelstein and Woolhandler are visiting professors of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program. PNHP played no role in supporting their research.
“Cost control in a parallel universe: Medicare spending in the U.S. and Canada,” David U. Himmelstein, M.D., Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H. Archives of Internal Medicine, online publication date Oct. 29, 2012.
Physicians for a National Health Program
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Outcomes Of Bilateral Knee Replacement Surgery Affected By Anesthesia Type

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Also Included In: Pain / Anesthetics;  
Article Date: 30 Oct 2012 – 0:00 PDT

Outcomes Of Bilateral Knee Replacement Surgery Affected By Anesthesia Type
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Using regional anesthesia rather than general anesthesia reduces the need for blood transfusions in patients undergoing bilateral total knee replacement, according to a new study by researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City.
Currently, the majority of bilateral knee replacements in the United States (as well as single knee replacements) are performed under general anesthesia, and researchers say that a regional anesthesia known as neuraxial anesthesia should be promoted for these procedures.
“The use of neuraxial anesthesia may not always be feasible in every patient, but it should be considered more frequently,” said Stavros Memtsoudis, M.D., Ph.D., director of Critical Care Services at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City, who led the study. “You shouldn’t be asking doctors who don’t use neuraxial anesthesia in their daily practice to suddenly switch over and start doing it, but there is a lot of education that needs to be done in terms of training residents and orthopedic surgeons to point out the impact of the choice of anesthetic technique on outcomes beyond the operating room.” The study appears online ahead of print in the journal Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine.
Despite its advantages, bilateral knee replacement is associated with an increased risk of complications, compared with the alternative of operating on one knee at a time. Neuraxial anesthesia involves injecting medication into the fatty tissue that surrounds the nerve roots in the spine (known as an epidural) or into the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the spinal cord.

For the last two decades, HSS has increasingly used regional anesthesia for orthopedic procedures, because of a growing body of evidence showing favorable results compared with general anesthesia.

Because the influence of anesthesia on perioperative outcomes after bilateral total knee replacement is unknown, researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery conducted a retrospective review of all bilateral knee replacements performed between 2006 and 2010 using Premier Perspective. This administrative database contains discharge information from approximately 400 acute care hospitals located throughout the United States. The study population included 22,253 patients, but the type of anesthesia used was unclear in 6,566 of the patients. Of the 15,687 patients where anesthesia type could be identified, 6.8% received neuraxial anesthesia, 80.1% received general anesthesia, and 13.1% received a combination of both. The three groups had similar comorbidity burdens.

The investigators discovered that patients receiving neuraxial anesthesia were less likely to receive blood transfusions (28.5%) than patients receiving general anesthesia (44.7%) or the combination (38.0%) (P<0.0001). The researchers identified a trend toward a reduction in major complications, such as pulmonary embolism and mechanical ventilation, with the use of neuraxial anesthesia compared with the other two groups, but this was not statistically significant. The investigators say it is possible that the sample size was too small to find other differences in complication rates, with only 1,066 patients receiving neuraxial anesthesia.

“This study shows the important role that anesthesia plays in terms of perioperative outcomes and that people need to start looking at interventions to reduce complications of bilateral knee replacements, not just patient selection, which is basically the only thing that doctors have been advocating in the last ten years,” said Dr. Memtsoudis.

In recent years, clinicians have been selecting younger patients for bilateral procedures, a practice that by itself may unfortunately be limited in its impact on complications, as it is counteracted by increasing rates of comorbidities, such as obesity, present in orthopedic patients and in the population in general [put link to other Memtsoudis press release]. “You can try to choose healthier people, but that is only going to get you so far,” said Dr. Memtsoudis. “Implementing active interventions, such as selecting a specific anesthetic in order to improve outcomes may be something that we need to do more of.”

Dr. Memtsoudis pointed out that communication with patients is key. “Many patients don’t like the idea of having an injection in their back and their legs being numb, and they are worried about paralysis. There is a lot of misinformation out there,” he said. “You have to take into account comorbidities, patient preferences and other practice specific factors, such as the choice for anticoagulation, but neuraxial anesthesia should at the very least be considered in every patient.”

The price tags associated with neuraxial and general anesthesia are similar. Anesthesia medications used during surgeries are a small fraction of overall health care costs.

More work is needed to identify ways to prevent complications in patients undergoing bilateral knee replacement and a recent conference at Hospital for Special Surgery, chaired by Dr. Memtsoudis, is aiming to do just that. The Consensus Conference on the Creation of Guidelines for Bilateral Knee Arthroplasty involved 40 experts from 16 institutions. The guidelines coming out of this conference, which are expected to be published within the next six months, address issues such as selecting appropriate candidates, determining the appropriate workup and management for a patient undergoing bilateral knee replacement, and how long doctors should wait between procedures if a patient undergoes two operations.

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click ‘references’ tab above for source.
Visit our section for the latest news on this subject.
Other authors of the study appearing in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine include Ottokar Stundner, M.D., and Lazaros Poultsides, M.D., Ph.D., from Hospital for Special Surgery; Ya-Lin Chiu, M.S., Xuming Sun, M.S., Madhu Mazumdar, Ph.D., and Peter Fleischut, M.D., from New York-Presbyterian Hospital; and Peter Gerner, M.D., and Gerhard Fritsch, M.D., from Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria. The study was supported by funds from the Clinical Translational Science Center at Weill Cornell Medical College; the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Center for Education, Research, and Therapeutics.
Hospital for Special Surgery
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n.p. (2012, October 30). “Outcomes Of Bilateral Knee Replacement Surgery Affected By Anesthesia Type.” . Retrieved fromhttp://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/252108.php.

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Act Quickly to Beat Mold After a Flood

flooded house and car

Oct. 30, 2012 — If you’re trying to clean up a house flooded by Hurricane Sandy, be aware that you’re in a race against mold and bacteria, which can grow quickly in damp environments.

Mold is especially dangerous for people with breathing problems caused by allergies or asthma. But high levels of mold can also cause problems for people who are relatively healthy. Symptoms of mold exposure include wheezing, shortness of breath, sore throats, flu-like aches and pains, and fatigue.

Mold isn’t the only threat from flooding. Bacteria may also be a problem if your house was soaked by sewage. Bacteria can cause dangerous gastrointestinal and skin infections.

That’s why it’s important to stop these pathogens before they take hold of your home.

“You’ve really got 24 to 36 hours to work with,” says Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing, a nonprofit organization that wrote a guide to help residents clean up flooded homes after Hurricane Katrina.

The good news is that the faster you act, the more you may be able to save.

DIY Cleanup? Or Call a Pro?

The first thing to do is to pump out or soak up any standing water. But be careful: If you’ve got several feet of water in a basement, where fuse boxes and other electrical circuitry may be submerged, have emergency workers clear the space before you get to work.

If you have a lot of water in the house, Morley, who has been through two floods herself, says hiring help can be a good investment.

“I had water up to my ankles. My carpet was floating when I got home,” Morley says. “These restoration companies have all the heavy equipment that’s needed to dry out a place quickly. They bring in their big fans, their big dehumidifiers.”

You might also need a professional if your house was flooded with sewage, which has an unmistakable smell. Sewage is hazardous and best handled by someone who’s trained.

Getting Started

  • Start hauling wet things, especially plush items like pillows, upholstered furniture, or curtains out of the house to a place like the garage or the driveway where they can dry. “They are going to be the more challenging things to salvage,” Morley says.
  • Use a shop vac or wet vac to suck water out of soggy carpets.
  • Fans can help get air moving in enclosed spaces, but they may not be enough.
  • Consider renting or buying a dehumidifier to keep moisture levels low in the air in rooms you’re trying to dry. Basements and big areas may require larger, commercial-sized machines. “You want to get as much air movement as possible over the wet areas,” says Arthur Lau, a certified microbial investigator for Microecologies, a national restoration and cleanup company.
  • Remove baseboards and moldings from flooded walls, especially if the walls are made of sheetrock. “Baseboards really prevent the lower few inches of wet walls from drying out, no matter how much air you put on it,” Lau says.
  • Cut small openings along the bases of walls to let air into the wall to dry the back as well as the front of the sheetrock. “The paper covering on sheetrock is on the front and back sides. So you may see nothing on the room-side surface, but you don’t know what’s happening on the backside,” Lau says.

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Myths About Exercise and Older Adults

Have you given up on exercise? A lot of older people do — just one out of four people between the ages of 65 and 74 exercises regularly. Many people assume that they’re too out-of-shape, or sick, or tired, or just plain old to exercise. They’re wrong.

“Exercise is almost always good for people of any age,” says Chhanda Dutta, PhD, chief of the Clinical Gerontology Branch at the National Institute on Aging. Exercise can help make you stronger, prevent bone loss, improve balance and coordination, lift your mood, boost your memory, and ease the symptoms of many chronic conditions.

Here are some common myths that stop older people from exercising — along with some expert advice to get you started working out.

Exercise Myth: Trying to exercise and get healthy is pointless — decline in old age is inevitable.

“There’s a powerful myth that getting older means getting decrepit,” says Dutta. “It’s not true. Some people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s are out there running marathons and becoming body-builders.” A lot of the symptoms that we associate with old age — such as weakness and loss of balance — are actually symptoms of inactivity, not age, says Alicia I. Arbaje, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Exercise improves more than your physical health. It can also boost memory and help prevent dementia. And it can help you maintain your independence and your way of life. If you stay strong and agile as you age, you’ll be more able to keep doing the things you enjoy and less likely to need help.

Exercise Myth: Exercise isn’t safe for someone my age — I don’t want to fall and break a hip.

In fact, studies show that exercise can reduce your chances of a fall, says Dutta. Exercise builds strength, balance, and agility. Exercises like tai chi may be especially helpful in improving balance. Worried about osteoporosis and weak bones? One of the best ways to strengthen them is with regular exercise.

Exercise Myth: Since I’m older, I need to check with my doctor before I exercise.

If you have a medical condition or any unexplained symptoms or you haven’t had a physical in a long time, check with your doctor before you start exercising. Otherwise, go ahead. “People don’t need to check with a doctor before they exercise just because they’re older,” says Dutta. Just go slowly and don’t overdo it.

Exercise Myth: I’m sick, so I shouldn’t exercise.

On the contrary, if you have a chronic health problem — such as arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease — exercise is almost certainly a good idea. Check with a doctor first, but exercise will probably help.

“Exercise is almost like a silver bullet for lots of health problems,” says Arbaje. “For many people, exercise can do as much if not more good than the 5 to 10 medications they take every day.”

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Hypothermia Risk in Sandy's Aftermath

Hypothermia Risk in Sandy’s Aftermath

plumeting thermometer

Oct. 30, 2012 — With power out and temperatures dropping in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, keeping warm is more than a comfort issue. It’s a matter of life and death.

In its early stages, hypothermia — too-low body temperature — is hard to recognize. That makes it especially deadly, as many people don’t know it’s happening and become unable to take care of themselves.

Many people think it has to be freezing outside before they can get hypothermia. But if a person is wet from rain or sweat, hypothermia can set in at temperatures well above 40 F.

Those most at risk are elderly people, who are less able to compensate for low temperatures, says James F. Peggs, MD, professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan.

“For elderly people, having the furnace go out or falling and spending hours on a cold floor can trigger hypothermia,” Peggs says. “A body temperature of 96, not a whole lot lower than normal, can cause hypothermia symptoms in the elderly.”

Babies, particularly those asleep in cold rooms, also are at risk. So are unattended children. People who have been drinking alcohol also risk hypothermia, as do some people suffering from mental illnesses.

Hypothermia is a serious medical condition. Call 911 if you think that you or another person has become hypothermic.

The symptoms of hypothermia are the same in children and in adults:

  • Confusion, memory loss, or slurred speech
  • Body temperature below 95 F
  • Exhaustion or drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Numb hands or feet
  • Shallow breathing
  • Shivering

The symptoms of hypothermia in infants include:

  • Bright red, cold skin
  • Very low energy level

Hypothermia treatment means warming the body slowly. DO NOT begin by warming the hands and feet, as this can bring on shock. Warm the person’s trunk first:

  • Bring the person indoors.
  • Remove wet clothing and dry the body if it’s wet.
  • Warm the chest, neck, head, and groin by wrapping the person in blankets — an electric blanket works best if power is available. You may also warm the person by skin-to-skin contact under loose layers of dry blankets or towels.
  • DO NOT put the person in warm water or a warm bath. Warming a person too fast can cause heart trouble.
  • You may use hot water bottles or chemical hot packs, but don’t put them directly on the skin. Wrap them in a dry towel before applying.
  • Once body temperature becomes normal, keep the person wrapped in a warm blanket. Don’t forget to keep the neck and head wrapped.
  • Give warm fluids, but avoid beverages such as tea or coffee that contain caffeine. DO NOT give alcoholic beverages.
  • If the person with hypothermia is not breathing normally, start CPR for children or adult CPR.

After the person arrives at the hospital, medical professionals may give IV fluids and oxygen.

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