Brain Boost: June Is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

June, the Alzheimer’s Association boosts awareness of brain health during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, shining a light on Alzheimer’s disease and other devastating dementias that affect more than 55 million people worldwide.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is growing — and growing fast.” In fact, more than 6.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s. By 2050, that number is expected to surge to nearly 13 million. As with many other conditions, diversity matters. Statistics show that: Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women Older Black Americans are about twice as likely as older Whites to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias Older Hispanics are 1.5 times as likely as older Whites to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias Researchers are using data from the All of Us Research Program to explore the roles health disparities, socioeconomic factors, and precision medicine play in disease risk, prevention, and treatment. This month, join the Alzheimer’s Association in striving to end Alzheimer’s and learn more about the different ways All of Usresearchers are  working to uncover patterns of the disease in diverse populations.

5 Tips to Help You Prepare For Your Next Doctor’s Appointment

When you aren’t feeling well, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed at a doctor’s appointment. If you’re experiencing new symptoms or if your old symptoms have gotten worse, you may feel anxious, and nervous, and may forget to ask important questions. Doctor’s visits are often pressed for time, which may add to your nervousness. This may make it more difficult to cover all your bases.  Being prepared for an appointment with your doctor and being your own health advocate is critical to getting the most out of your visit. When you gather the information you need beforehand, you can make the visit go more smoothly and ensure you are getting answers to all your questions so you leave feeling better than when you walked in.  Why It’s Important to Be Prepared The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how we all go about our daily lives and do things, including a visit to the doctor. From March to the end of April 2021, outpatient visits dropped nearly 60%. While visits began to climb, there was a shift from in-person visits to telemedicine. Telemedicine appointments are helpful because it can save you and your doctor time, but also has limitations like the inability to …

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Why Is the Dialysis Diet Important For End-Stage Kidney Disease?

When living with chronic kidney disease, there are many lifestyle changes that can be made to help support your kidneys and prevent the disease from progressing to later stages. A kidney-friendly diet is one of the most important precautions you can follow. For those already in end-stage kidney disease, you may find yourself wondering if it’s worth following a kidney diet. The answer is yes, especially if you are starting dialysis.  For you to feel your best and improve dialysis success, a carefully planned diet will play a major role in your treatment. While some of the basic guidelines from a kidney-friendly diet will still be important to adhere to, there are even more dietary precautions to take when starting dialysis. What is a Kidney-Friendly Diet? A kidney-friendly diet is a specific eating plan that helps protect your kidneys from more damage. Foods found on a kidney diet are easy on your kidneys, liver, and digestive system to limit the amount of work each organ system needs to perform to break down and process food.  The kidneys are small, bean shape organs located just below the rib cage with one kidney on each side of the spine. These small, but powerful organs …

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7 Diet and Exercise Tips to Improve Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

Have you ever eaten extra healthy for a few days? Meals consisted of green leafy vegetables, lots of fruit, lean protein, wholesome grains, and heart-healthy fats. After following a nutrient-dense diet for several days, you may have noticed improved energy levels, less brain fog, and better sleep. This is because the foods you eat have a significant impact on overall health, especially in patients with multiple sclerosis.  Multiple sclerosis is a neurodegenerative autoimmune disease. The body mistakenly attacks healthy myelin cells around the spinal cord and brain. This results in symptoms like fatigue, changes in vision, mobility issues, pain, cognitive dysfunction, and even depression.  Ongoing research and patient experience show that specific diets accompanied by a balanced exercise program can relieve many multiple sclerosis symptoms. For some, making a few changes to food choices is enough to feel some sense of improvement. For others, a new diet strategy may be a better option to reduce existing symptoms and prevent new ones from popping up.  Specialty Diets for Multiple Sclerosis Nutrition plays an important role in regulating and improving health. When you have a chronic condition like multiple sclerosis, diet is key in managing symptoms and preventing episodes. For many years, researchers …

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What You Need to Know About the Three Different Types of Dialysis

When you’ve been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), you and your health care provider will discuss treatment options to help manage your condition and prevent it from progressing to kidney failure. Treatment will depend on what stage of the disease and if there are any underlying causes, like diabetes or high blood pressure. In the earlier stages of CKD, treatment options may include a modified diet, antihypertensive medications, and vitamins and supplements. As the disease progresses to end-stage renal disease or end-stage renal failure, the kidneys are no longer functioning and will require a more extreme treatment protocol. End-stage renal disease requires either dialysis or a kidney transplant.  What is Chronic Kidney Disease? Chronic kidney disease is a gradual loss of kidney function over time. The kidneys are an important organ in the body that is responsible for filtering waste and excess fluids from the blood, maintaining overall fluid balance, and regulating the amount of salt and minerals in the body. Waste, excess fluid, and minerals are excreted through the urine to prevent buildup. But when kidneys become damaged, they aren’t able to filter blood as well as they should. This means that excess fluid, waste, and minerals can’t be …

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5 Simple Ways to Differentiate Rheumatoid Arthritis From Fibromyalgia

After waking up in the morning, you notice feeling exhausted despite getting a good night of rest. You also notice your joints are feeling more swollen and stiffer. Even your muscles feel a little achier than usual.  These symptoms may be related, or they could be completely separate. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and fibromyalgia (FM) both present with similar symptoms, such as pain, stiffness, and fatigue. But they are two different conditions. These are easy to confuse because they have many similarities, but each condition has different causes and a unique set of symptoms that differentiates one from the other. What Are the Symptoms of RA and Fibromyalgia? Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia are two different conditions, but with some similar symptoms. Symptoms that are common to both conditions include: Chronic pain Sleep disturbances  Fatigue and tiredness Depression and anxiety While these symptoms are the same, the causes and the way people experience them often differ. Pain Pain is a common symptom of many conditions, especially ones like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. However, the cause of pain for each condition is different. RA is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that manifests in joints of the hands, wrists, and knees. Joint pain often occurs …

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How Digitization Helps Patients Become Their Own Health Advocates

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of people’s lives, including health care. Many physicians and practices were forced to transition from traditional, in-person doctor’s visits to telehealth appointments. Only under more extreme or necessary circumstances were patients allowed in-person visits, and often times they were forced to go to those visits alone and without any support from a loved one.  With less access to doctors via in-person visits, patients have needed to learn how to become the best advocates for their own health.  To do this, patients need to consider the different avenues to lean on so they can receive the best care possible.  Why Become Your Own Health Advocate? We recently surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers about how their healthcare experience has changed since the start of the pandemic and what tools they use to better their health. Here is what we discovered: Patients feel they must advocate for themselves Of the consumers surveyed, 85% feel positive about their healthcare experience but 81% still feel that they must advocate for themselves in order to receive the best care. This means taking control of your healthcare experience by speaking up to your healthcare team and asking questions, stating needs, and expressing concerns and …

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10 Things You Need to Know About Living With a Mental Illness

Going to therapy or talking with friends or family about things like anxiety, depression or PTSD, was once considered taboo. But, mental health has increasingly become a more widely accepted topic of discussion. In 2018, the American Psychological Association found that 87% of American adults agreed that having a mental health disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. They also found that 86% said they believe that people with mental health disorders can get better.  While people are becoming more open about mental health, there are many things that people still aren’t talking about. Like the fact that 33% of Americans didn’t consider anxiety as a mental health disorder and 22% said the same about depression. Another 39% of people said they would view people differently if they knew that person had a mental health disorder. Based on findings, the stigma of mental illness is still a prevalent issue. Stigma happens when one person views another as different or “other”. People who are placed under a stigma are often denied full social acceptance, viewed as having negative attributes, and tainted or discounted.  What To Know About Mental Illness? Talking about mental illness means going beyond the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V) …

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What is The Link Between Depression and Multiple Sclerosis?

When you have a condition like multiple sclerosis, it’s vital to pay close attention to the physical symptoms and limitations of the condition. Things like difficulty walking, changes in vision, and increasing fatigue all have a significant impact on daily life and can provide signals of disease progress. Because patients and doctors alike can be so focused on the physical symptoms, it’s easy to forget about the mental and emotional implications of multiple sclerosis. Mood changes, like depression and anxiety, are just as important as physical changes. Depression has been found to be more common in patients with MS compared to the general population. As a result, it can make other symptoms feel worse, impact relationships, and increase the risk of suicide.  What is Depression? When dealing with symptoms of multiple sclerosis, it’s normal to feel extremely sad from time to time. You may feel especially down or even hopeless after experiencing an exacerbation or relapse. While it is normal to have these moments, there is a difference between feeling extremely sad and being depressed.  Depression is much more than being sad. It’s a serious mental illness marked by commons symptoms like: Depressed mood Loss of interested in activities Changes in appetite and weight Changes …

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How is Alpha-1 Different from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?

Have you ever noticed a sudden cough come on that doesn’t seem to want to go away? Or felt strong during exercise one day, then found yourself getting short of breath over the next few weeks? Maybe you notice it’s getting a little harder to breath as the years go on. Chronic cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing are all common symptoms of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  While they may seem like similar conditions based on the symptoms and treatment, the causes are long-term effects are different.  What is Alpha 1? Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD) is a genetic condition that impacts your lungs and liver and can lead to a serious lung or liver disease, and in some a skin disease. Commonly referred to as alpha -1, this rare disease affects nearly 100,000 people in the United States.  Alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) is a protein produced in the liver and is found in the lungs and bloodstream. It helps protect the lungs and other tissues from damage caused by illnesses, infections, and inflammation. AAT works in conjunction with an enzyme called elastase. This enzyme is made by specific tissue in the pancreas and is an important part of …

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