Click inside for the weekly health rail, with items on home diagnostic devices, safe grilling tips, and more.
Health page: Spice up your healthy appetite
Father gives daughter a part of himself – his kidney
Importance of a good night's rest
More in health
Technology has revolutionized how Americans manage chronic diseases, empowering them to monitor important health indicators in the comfort of home.
From monitoring blood pressure and blood oxygen levels to the electronic transmission of health information, technology is helping us take better charge of our own health.
New home diagnostic devices become available each year to monitor some of the most common chronic diseases Americans face.
High blood pressure
One of the most common chronic ailments, high blood pressure affects nearly a third of all Americans older than 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Untreated high blood pressure puts you at increased risk of stroke, heart attack, heart disease, heart failure and kidney disease. Called "the silent killer" because it causes few symptoms, hypertension once required regular visits to a doctor's office for monitoring and treatment.
Now, easy-to-use home monitors allow people with hypertension to check their blood pressure every day.
A leading cause of kidney failure, blindness, amputations, heart disease and stroke, diabetes affects nearly 24 million Americans, about 25 percent of whom don't even know they have it, according to the CDC. Diabetes can be controlled with medication and diet, but sufferers must continuously monitor their blood sugar levels.
Before the advent of home diabetes monitors, people living with the disease could only monitor it through blood tests administered in their doctor's office. Now, a simple finger prick once a day using a home monitor allows diabetes sufferers to keep track of their blood sugar levels in the comfort of their own homes.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. With 12 million people currently diagnosed, and 12 million people suffering unaware, COPD is known as the "silent killer" due to the gradual onset of symptoms that allow it to go undetected until serious complications arise.
Because COPD blocks the airways, sufferers need to regularly monitor their blood oxygen levels. A home version of a pulse oximeter device allows COPD patients, and people suffering from other chronic respiratory diseases, to easily self-monitor their blood oxygen and heart rate levels at home.
Telemedicine encompasses the secure electronic exchange of medical information through video-conferencing, transmission of still images such as X-rays or MRI scans, remote monitoring of vital signs, and Web sites designed to assist patients in managing their health.
Where once patients might have waited days, or even weeks, to learn test results, telemedicine is helping to streamline this and many other medical processes.
Women more susceptible to smoking’s effects
Women may be more susceptible to the lung damaging effects of smoking than men, according to new research.
Researchers analyzed data from a Norwegian case-control study including 954 subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 955 controls. All were current- or ex-smokers, and the COPD subjects had moderate or severe COPD.
Overall, according to the study, female smokers experienced reduced lung function at a lower level of smoking exposure and at an earlier age than men.
Researchers concluded that clearly, there is no such thing as a safe exposure to cigarette smoke, particularly for female smokers.
-- Brigham and Women's Hospital
Did You Know?
A trial of a drug-free treatment for asthma uses a device to heat the walls of the lung's air passages, which prevents narrowing of the airways.
Health Tip: Prevent grilling accidents
Four out of five U.S. families now own a grill, and most people barbecue at least once a week in the summer. This increases the chances of a possible home grilling fire.
The National Fire Protection Association offers these safe-grilling tips:
- Keep a home fire extinguisher on hand and within easy reach.
- Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill area: declare a 3-foot “safe zone” around the grill.
- Use long-handled grilling tools to provide plenty of clearance from heat and flames when flipping burgers.
Number to Know: 10 million
Number of people in the U.S. who are affected by fibromyalgia, a chronic-pain condition. – National Fibromyalgia Association
Children’s Health: Practice safe boating
The U. S. Coast Guard reminds parents that their children should always wear a life jacket while boating.
Many adults believe themselves capable of diving into the water to rescue a child who falls overboard. This is a dangerous misconception. Adults may not notice a child falling overboard right away. Children who fall in may not surface immediately, and it can be difficult to locate a child in the water — especially when the vessel is in motion.
Life jackets could prevent approximately two-thirds of all boating-related drownings of children ages 14 and younger. In fact, in most states, children younger 13 must wear life jackets.
Senior Health: Don’t let arthritis beat you
To win the battle over osteoarthritis and stay healthy as you age, take these steps:
- Practice anti-inflammatory living: Eat a diet that includes lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables and highly absorbable glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.
- Do two yoga poses: The tree pose (standing on one leg, place left foot on the inside of the right leg with hands in a prayer position at chest) helps strengthen the lower body and core while the downward dog (hands on ground out in front with hips high and heels down) helps stretch the hamstrings and lower back.
- Get moving: Try to move your body at least 10 minutes after each meal or three times a day.
- Get at least six hours of sleep per night. Proper rest and recovery aids the body's ability to rebuild and rejuvenate.
GateHouse News Service