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Your.MD raises $10M to grow AI-driven health information service and marketplace


Your.MD, an AI-driven health information service delivered via a bot, has raised $10 million in new funding. The round was led by Orkla Ventures, the venture arm of Orkla, a leading supplier of branded consumer goods to the health, pharmacy, and grocery sectors in the Nordics, Baltics and parts of Central Europe. Existing investor Smedvig Capital and other unnamed existing shareholders also participated.

Billed as a AI-based “pre-primary care service,” Your.MD is available for web, iOS, Android, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Slack and Telegram. It is part chatbot, helping users figure out what might be wrong with them via a conversational interface that drills down into your symptoms, and part next-generation search engine to surface detailed and verified information on various medical conditions.

Alongside this, the London-headquartered startup has developed what it calls the “OneStop Health platform,” a marketplace of trusted health service providers and products, some of which it has a commercial partnership. So, for example, if Your.MD helps you determine that you need to speak to a doctor, OneStop would connect you to video telemedicine service Push Doctor. Or if a massage could be the correct remedy, Your.MD would send you Urban Massage‘s way.

There are currently 35 international and local digital health businesses on the platform, and the company says it plans to grow this to over 100 by the end of the year. OneStop is also key to how Your.MD plans to generate revenue, for what it otherwise a free information service.

In a call with Your.MD founder and CEO Matteo Berlucchi, I likened the combination of Your.MD’s next-generation search engine combined with the OneStop Health platform to the way Google’s own search engine captures and then monetises intent. He agreed that the comparison is valid, but with one key difference.

When people search for information on a product or service they typically already know what they’re looking for and what action or intent will follow. With health, there is an extra stage needed before intent can be captured, which is helping you figure out what it is you need first. “When you do a health-related search you don’t want lots of results, you just want the correct one,” notes Berlucchi.

To date, Your.MD has garnered 2.1 million downloads and says it has nearly a million active users per month. Interestingly, 67 per cent of users are male and 33 per cent female. Who said men don’t want to talk about their health? Albeit to an AI-based chatbot.

Article source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/27/your-md-raises-10m/

When Cutting Access to Health Care, There’s a Price to Pay

And the American deficit has been getting worse. “Each year, other high-income countries are improving their health at a much faster rate than the United States, and the United States currently ranks lowest on a variety of health measures,” the report by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council noted.

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I bring this up, senators, because you are considering a bill that would drive a stake through the Affordable Care Act. As you mull the legislation over your holiday recess, think about the consequences of cutting access to care for millions of mostly poorer, sicker and older Americans.

Of course, the dismal health situation is not all the fault of the health care system — which, until the passage of the Affordable Care Act, was the only one in the developed world that routinely barred access or limited care for millions of people of modest means.That is because violence accounts for a large share of Americans’ excessive mortality, and accidents take a disproportionate toll. Nor is the health care system entirely to blame for the nation’s elevated obesity rate — a leading cause of problems like diabetes.


The High Cost of Avoiding Health Care

Americans die from noncommunicable diseases at higher rates than citizens of many other advanced countries. And many people here have at times been reluctant to see a doctor because of the cost.




Mortality rate from noncommunicable diseases

Age-standardized deaths per 100,000 people,

selected countries, 2008

0

100

200

300

400

Denmark

United States

418

Britain

Germany

Portugal

Netherlands

Finland

Austria

Norway

Sweden

Spain

Canada

Italy

France

Australia

Switzerland

Japan

Percentage who say they have

skipped seeing a doctor because of cost

Among respondents to the 2016 Commonwealth

Fund International Health Policy Survey

0%

10

20

30

40

United States

Switzerland

Canada

France

New Zealand

Australia

Netherlands

Norway

Sweden

LOW-INCOME ADULTS*

Germany

Britain

ALL OTHER ADULTS


By The New York Times

What’s more, the United States’ higher tolerance of poverty undoubtedly contributes to higher rates of sickness and death. Americans at all socioeconomic levels are less healthy than people in some other rich countries. But the disparity is greatest among low-income groups.

Still, senators, you are not off the hook. Limited access to health care may not entirely account for the poor health and the early deaths of so many of your fellow Americans. But it accounts for a good chunk.

A study about equity in access to health care for 21 countries in 2000 revealed that the United States had the highest degree of inequity in doctor use, even higher than Mexico — which is both poorer and generally more inequitable.

And as noted in a 2003 study by the Institute of Medicine, insurance status, more than any other demographic or economic factor, determines the timeliness and quality of health care, if it is received at all.

It doesn’t require an advanced degree to figure out what limited access to a doctor can do to people’s health. A review of studies published this week in Annals of Internal Medicine reported that health insurance substantially raises people’s chances of survival. It improves the diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure, significantly cutting mortality rates. It reduces death rates from breast cancer and trauma. Over all, the review concluded that health insurance reduces the chance of dying among adults 18 to 64 years old by between 3 and 29 percent.

Another assessment, published last week in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that access to health insurance increases screenings for cholesterol and cancer, raises the number of patients taking needed diabetes medication, reduces depression, and raises the number of low-income Americans who get timely surgery for colon cancer.

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It said that expansions in three states of Medicaid, the federal health insurance for the poor whose rolls Republicans are prepared to trim by 15 million over a decade, were found to reduce mortality by 6 percent over five years, mostly by increasing low-income Americans’ access to treatment for things like H.I.V., heart disease, cancer and infections.

Photo


Annals of Internal Medicine reported that health insurance improves the diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure, and reduces death rates from breast cancer and trauma.

Credit
Whitten Sabbatini for The New York Times

I understand, senators, that this sort of analysis may not sway all of you. I’m aware of the view on the rightmost end of the political spectrum that ensuring people’s well-being, which I assume includes their health, is a matter of personal responsibility and not the government’s job.

Yet there is a solid economic argument for protecting your fellow citizens’ access to health care that does not rely on arguments from empathy, charity or the like. A sickly, poorly insured population can be expensive.

As noted by a study from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, poor health and limited access to health care not only raise the cost of providing such care but also reduce productivity, eat into wages, increase absenteeism, weigh on tax revenues and generally lower the nation’s quality of life.

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The study, which focused on the disadvantages of African-Americans, Latinos and Asians, added up the costs of inequalities in health and premature death between 2003 and 2006 and came up with a price tag of $1.24 trillion.

The good news, senators, is that solving these inequities needn’t be particularly expensive. The analysis relayed in The New England Journal of Medicine suggested that each additional life saved by expanding Medicaid costs $327,000 to $867,000. That is much cheaper than other public interventions, such as workplace safety and environmental regulations, which achieve a similar reduction in mortality for each $7.6 million spent on compliance.

Even better: Instead of taking away the health insurance of more than 20 million Americans, what if you could offer nearly universal access and still make that work within your broader agenda?

In 2015, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States government spent 8.4 percent of its gross domestic product to pay for health care for about half of all Americans, including Medicare, Medicaid and subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. That year, Britain spent 7.7 percent to cover virtually all of its citizens. Finland, Canada and Italy spent even less.

I understand, senators, that these places have what is known as single-payer systems — which tend to stick in the craws of some of you. But think about it. If your primary motivation to repeal the Affordable Care Act is to provide a large tax cut for high-income Americans, think what you could do with a full percentage point of G.D.P. It could even be worth the effort to provide health care for all.

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/business/economy/health-care-senate-mortality.html

Senate Health Bill in Peril as CBO Predicts 22 Million More Uninsured

But the budget office put Republicans in an untenable position. It found that next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured compared with current law. Premiums and out-of-pocket expenses could shoot skyward for some low-income people and for people nearing retirement, it said.

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The legislation would decrease federal deficits by a total of $321 billion over a decade, the budget office said.

Mr. McConnell, the chief author of the bill, wanted the Senate to approve it before a planned recess for the Fourth of July, but that looks increasingly doubtful. Misgivings in the Republican conference extend beyond just a few of the most moderate and conservative members, and Mr. McConnell can lose only two Republicans.



Where Senators Stand on the Health Care Bill

A real-time count of every senator’s position.


At least some of Ms. Collins’s concerns could be shared by Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, whose rural states would face effects similar to those in Maine.

“If you were on the fence, you were looking at this as a political vote, this C.B.O. score didn’t help you,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “So I think it’s going to be harder to get to 50, not easier.”

He added, “I don’t know, if you delayed it for six weeks, if anything changes.”

Under the bill, the budget office said, subsidies to help people buy health insurance would be “substantially smaller than under current law.” And deductibles would, in many cases, be higher. Starting in 2020, the budget office said, premiums and deductibles would be so onerous that “few low-income people would purchase any plan.”

Moreover, the report said, premiums for older people would be much higher under the Senate bill than under current law. As an example, it said, for a typical 64-year-old with an annual income of $26,500, the net premium in 2026 for a midlevel silver plan, after subsidies, would average $6,500, compared with $1,700 under the Affordable Care Act. And the insurance would cover less of the consumer’s medical costs.

Likewise, the report said, for a 64-year-old with an annual income of $56,800, the premium in 2026 would average $20,500 a year, or three times the amount expected under the Affordable Care Act.

The budget office report was a major setback to Senate Republican leaders, but it was too early to declare the legislation dead, and turmoil in health insurance markets could still induce Congress to take action this year. Many people thought the House repeal bill was dead after Speaker Paul D. Ryan pulled it from the floor on March 24, but a slightly revised version was narrowly approved by the House six weeks later.

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Senator John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the Republican leadership, suggested that leaders would press forward with the Senate bill. He said that an argument could be made for delaying it “if you thought you were going to get a better policy,” but that that was not the case.

“This is the best we can do to try and satisfy all the different perspectives in our conference,” Mr. Thune said, adding that he did not think the politics would improve by waiting. “It’s time to fish or cut bait.”

Video


Fact Check: The Senate Health Care Plan

Does the health care bill in the Senate live up to Republicans’ promises? We checked the facts.


By DAVE HORN and NATALIE RENEAU on Publish Date June 26, 2017.


Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times.

Watch in Times Video »

The White House discounted the report, saying the budget office had “consistently proven it cannot accurately predict how health care legislation will impact insurance coverage.”

The Trump administration says the Senate Republican bill would not cut Medicaid because spending would still grow from year to year. But the Congressional Budget Office said that the bill would reduce projected Medicaid spending by a total of $772 billion in the coming decade, and that the number of people covered by Medicaid in 2026 would be 15 million lower than under current law.

In 2026, it said, Medicaid spending would be 26 percent lower than under current law, and enrollment of people under 65 would be 16 percent lower. Beyond 2026, Medicaid enrollment would keep declining compared with what would happen under current law.

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The Senate bill would make it much easier for states to obtain waivers exempting them from certain federal insurance standards, like those that require insurers to provide a minimum set of health benefits. The budget office said that nearly half of all Americans could be affected by these cutbacks in “essential benefits,” and that as a result, coverage for maternity care, mental health care, rehabilitation services and certain very expensive drugs “could be at risk.”

Before the budget office released its report, the American Medical Association had announced its opposition to the bill, and the National Governors Association had cautioned the Senate against moving too quickly.

The budget office’s findings immediately gave fodder to Democrats, who were already assailing the bill as cruel. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said Senate Republicans had been saying for weeks that their bill would be an improvement over the House bill, which President Trump had described as “mean.”

The budget office had found that under the House bill, the number of people without health insurance would increase by 23 million by 2026 — only slightly more than the 22 million projected for the Senate bill.

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“C.B.O.’s report today makes clear that this bill is every bit as mean as the House bill,” Mr. Schumer said. “This C.B.O. report should be the end of the road for Trumpcare. Republicans would be wise to read it like a giant stop sign, urging them to turn back from this path that would be disastrous for the country, for middle-class Americans and for their party.”



Graphic

The C.B.O. Did the Math. These Are the Key Takeaways From the Senate Health Care Bill.

A look at four big numbers in the C.B.O. report.


The criticism was not confined to the Democratic caucus. Mr. Johnson, one of five Senate Republicans who said last week that they could not support the bill as drafted, told a radio host that Senate leaders were “trying to jam this thing through.” He, too, suggested he would not vote even to begin debating the bill.

“I have a hard time believing I’ll have enough information for me to support a motion to proceed this week,” Mr. Johnson said later on Monday.

Beyond the number of Americans without insurance, the Senate bill’s $321 billion in deficit reduction is larger than the $119 billion that the budget office found for the bill that passed the House.

Earlier Monday afternoon, Senate Republican leaders altered their bill to penalize people who go without health insurance by requiring them to wait six months before their coverage would begin. Insurers would generally be required to impose the waiting period on people who lacked coverage for more than about two months in the previous year.

The waiting period was meant to address a notable omission in the Senate’s bill: The measure would end the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most Americans have health insurance, but also require insurers to accept anyone who applied. The proposal is supposed to prevent people from waiting until they get sick to buy a health plan. Insurers need large numbers of healthy people, whose premiums help defray the cost of care for those who are sick.

Under one of the most unpopular provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the government can impose tax penalties on people who go without health coverage. Republicans have denounced this as government coercion.

The repeal bill passed by the House last month has a different kind of incentive. It would impose a 30 percent surcharge on premiums for people who have gone without insurance.

Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday that Republican senators were “working very hard to get there” but were not getting any help from Democrats.

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“Not easy! Perhaps just let OCare crash burn!” Mr. Trump wrote, reiterating his assertion that the Affordable Care Act would be doomed if Congress did not come to its rescue.


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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/26/us/politics/senate-health-care-bill-republican.html

To Your Good Health: Treating symptoms often better than treating lab results

DEAR DR. ROACH: A few months ago, I had routine follow-up thyroid tests, and my results were normal except for a slightly high free T4 level. My doctor decreased my medication dose to 137 mcg from 150 mcg; now my TSH is high (8.77), but my free T4 and T3 levels are normal.

Fatigue is my biggest symptom, and I am often chilly. I do have some constipation, for which I have been taking a stool softener for a number of years. — M.R.

ANSWER: In an ideal world, people with symptoms of low thyroid would have consistent laboratory findings: low thyroid hormone levels, both T4 (thyroxine, the medicine you are taking) and T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone); and a high TSH level (the hormone your body uses to regulate the thyroid). A higher TSH means the body is trying to make the thyroid put out more thyroid hormone.

However, it doesn’t always work the way it should. People can have symptoms with normal labs. The TSH and the T3/T4 can point in different directions. When that happens, I base treatment mostly on symptoms, not numbers. Of course, the hormone levels are important too: If the T3 and T4 get too high, it increases the rate of atrial fibrillation and can adversely affect the bones.

In your case, your doctor has a choice: On one hand, there is a normal T4, a high TSH and symptoms of low thyroid; on the other, there is a slightly high T4, but normal TSH and no symptoms. While I am oversimplifying a bit, the better choice (to use the higher 150-mcg dose and treat the symptoms) seems easy to me.

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a woman on gabapentin for pudendal neuralgia; I take 300 mg three times daily. When taken faithfully, my pelvic pain is under control. My question is: Why do so many doctors have no knowledge of this dreadful disease? I have been to nine doctors, and no one helped me. I finally researched on the internet, brought the info to my primary care doctor, crying hysterically in pain, and asked her if we could try gabapentin. Thank goodness she worked with me; I feel better, but not cured. Can you please write an article about this disease so others may become educated? Why is this disease almost taboo? The pain is so horrendous. — T.R.

ANSWER: Pudendal neuralgia is a cause of chronic pelvic pain. As you said, it often is incorrectly diagnosed (or not diagnosed at all), and so the true number of people suffering is unknown. Women with PN have pain in the distribution of the pudendal nerve (the genitals and rectum); usually worsened by sitting; does not wake the person up at night; with no loss of sensation; and relieved by a nerve block. The pain may come on or be worse with sexual activity, but it does not have to.

Why did nine of your doctors fail you? Why is it difficult to discuss? I can’t answer those questions. Probably some women are reluctant to bring it up, maybe for fear of being labeled “difficult.” Certainly, many doctors are unaware of the condition.

A specialist in pelvic pain is the ideal practitioner to make the diagnosis. Unfortunately, there are not enough of this kind of specialist. First-line treatment is with physical therapy, especially myofascial release of the pelvic floor. Again, a physical therapist with expertise in the pelvic floor is essential. Medications, such as gabapentin (you are on a low-to-moderate dose) also are helpful. A minority of women, especially those who develop this after surgery, may benefit from surgical decompression of the pudendal nerve.

READERS: The booklet on heart attacks, America’s No. 1 killer, explains what happens, how they are treated and how they are avoided. Readers can order a copy by writing:

Dr. Roach

Book No. 102

628 Virginia Dr.

Orlando, FL 32803

Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or request an order form of available health newsletters at 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. Health newsletters may be ordered from www.rbmamall.com.

Article source: https://www.dcourier.com/news/2017/jun/27/your-good-health-treating-symptoms-often-better-tr/

Is Utah’s overall good health responsible for its high rate of Alzheimer’s disease?

By most measures of health, Utah is a good example for the nation, not a horrible warning. The Beehive State has some of the nation’s lowest rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It has low rates of obesity, tobacco use and alcoholism.

But then there’s Alzheimer’s disease.

In the past five years, the number of deaths attributed to Alzheimer’s in Utah has more than doubled. Utah ranks 9th in the nation for Alzheimer’s deaths — compared with 50th for deaths from cancer and 35th from heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moreover, Utah is one of six states in which cases of the degenerative brain disease are predicted to rise 40 percent or more over the next seven years.

Because the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia increases as people age, the disease can seem like a curse of good health.

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” said Ronnie Daniel, executive director of the Utah chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “The single-largest risk factor for Alzheimer’s is age. People tend to have a more healthy lifestyle overall and that causes them to live longer here. But the longer we live, the more of a risk we have.”

Grim statistics seem to bear this out: One in 10 Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s. After age 85, 1 in 3 of us do. The average life expectancy in Utah is 80, one of the highest in the nation.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Aaron Thorup, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If you live in a state where dementia-related deaths are rising, such as Arizona, Nevada and Utah, can you and your family opt out of the trend? With no vaccine or cure on the horizon, it may not be possible. Even people who are in peak physical health get Alzheimer’s, former President Ronald Reagan one of the most famous among them.

Although the Alzheimer’s Association says the disease cannot be prevented, treated or cured, accumulating research suggests that lifestyle factors can lower an individual’s risk, even as Alzheimer’s marches mercilessly among the population at large.

And some researchers believe preventive interventions can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s or slow its progression in people already showing signs of the disease. Four factors — nutrition, exercise and social and cognitive engagement — deliver the most promising results. For some of the more than 30,000 people currently living with Alzheimer’s in Utah, it’s too late. But others may be helped with the right interventions and if they keep other health conditions under control, health experts say.

‘There is absolutely nothing’

Dr. Terrell Thomson was a physician specializing in internal medicine for nearly three decades. The father of five also earned a doctorate in microbiology and, until recently, had the sort of brain that allowed him to retain anything he read. For fun, Thomson restored antique cars, including a 1937 Plymouth that his wife drove in American Fork High School’s 100th anniversary parade. He is an expert woodworker who made the mantel that hangs over the family’s fireplace in American Fork.

“Now opening a bottle of water is beyond his ability. He can’t drive. And he cannot play golf, which was his favorite thing,” said Debbie Thomson, now a full-time caregiver to her husband of 41 years.

Dr. Terrell Thomson has a medical degree, a Ph.D. and Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed in January, and his wife Debbie is his caregiver. They pose Friday, June 23, 2017, next to a vintage 1937 Plymouth car that Terrell restored.| Eric Schulzke, Deseret News

Her husband, “the most brilliant man I have ever known,” was diagnosed in January at age 67 after more than three years of visual and cognitive decline.

“It is one of the most insidious diseases I can think of,” Debbie Thomson said. “With cancer, you have hope; there is some treatment, even if it isn’t effective. With this, there is nothing they have (to treat it). There is absolutely nothing.”

Even though her husband worked in health care for nearly 30 decades, the couple initially found it difficult to find help before seeing Dr. Norman Foster, a neurologist and director of the Center for Alzheimer’s Care, Imaging and Research at the University of Utah. Many doctors don’t want to get involved when a patient exhibits symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Debbie Thomson said, in part because they believe there’s nothing they can do.

One study published in 2015 found that nearly half of doctors treating patients with Alzheimer’s didn’t tell the patient of the diagnosis.

The perceived lack of effective treatment has created a sort of learned helplessness among many medical providers that is keeping patients from care that could help, said Daniel of the Alzheimer’s Association of Utah.

Dr. Terrell Thomson has a medical degree, a Ph.D. and Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed in January, and his wife Debbie is his caregiver. They talk Friday, June 23, 2017, next to a vintage 1937 Plymouth car that Terrell restored. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“Doctors tend to have that attitude that if there’s nothing I can do to help my patient, why should I burden them with this problem? It’s a big issue, getting doctors to understand that even if they can’t cure the disease, there’s a lot that can be done to help improve their quality of life,” Daniel said.

Another needed change is for primary-care doctors to start assessing cognitive abilities of their patients after 65, Daniel said. Even if no cognitive problems are detected, doing so provides a baseline that can make it easier to spot changes later on, he said, noting that Intermountain Health Care is now recommending that primary-care providers do routing screening for cognitive impairment at annual visits.

Dr. Meg Skibitsky, an Intermountain physician who specializes in geriatrics, said the health care company suggests that its providers offer a three-minute test called the mini-cog. The mini-cog assesses a person’s ability to draw a clock with a specific time shown and to remember a series of words. It doesn’t take much time, but the screening will help doctors who may not always be able to detect cognitive decline in a routine wellness visit, Skibitsky said.

“Unless dementia is really advanced and you’re really in tune to it, it can be missed by primary-care physicians. I have personally missed some of these diagnoses until I conducted screening tests,” she said.

If your doctor doesn’t do one, you should ask for the test if you or a loved one is 65 and older, Daniel said.

“It takes five minutes or less. And it’s no different from checking your cholesterol or heart rate every year,” he said.

Awareness and support

Americans fear cognitive decline more than they fear high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a Marist Institute poll in 2012, people said they were more afraid of developing Alzheimer’s disease than having a stroke or getting cancer, heart disease or diabetes. There is a stigma unique to the disease, and it seems particularly prevalent in Utah, said Foster, the neurologist who diagnosed Thomson.

Foster was part of the statewide committee charged with implementing a five-year “action plan” to address the challenges presented by the 40 percent increase in Alzheimer’s cases that are expected in Utah by 2025.

But rates are spiking all over the U.S. The CDC reported recently that it expects nearly 14 million Americans to have Alzheimer’s by 2050, more than double the 5.5 million people diagnosed now.

Health officials say the numbers are disturbing, not just for the individuals who will suffer the loss of their memories and sense of self, as well as their families, but American taxpayers. More than two-thirds of the costs associated with care of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are borne by Medicare and Medicaid, the Alzheimer’s Association says.

Utah’s state plan, which was supposed to exponentially increase Alzheimer’s awareness and research between 2012 and 2015, largely fizzled because it lacked funding, observers said. The plan had five overarching goals, including to make Utah “dementia aware” and provide support for caregivers, and 93 specific recommendations. But there was no state-provided funding until 2015, when the Legislature allotted $161,000 to hire an Alzheimer’s specialist in the state Department of Health and provide money for public information.

Daniel said his organization, which gets more than half of its funding through a series of Walks for Alzheimer’s each September, has made strides in support offered to families. The chapter trained more than 500 caregivers in 2016 and holds town-hall meetings, called “Dementia Dialogue,” across the state.

But medical professionals bemoan the lack of funding that they say hampers research nationwide. Even though cancer deaths have declined and Alzheimer’s deaths are spiking, more dollars are funneled into cancer study than dementia research. In 2016, the National Institutes of Health spent about $5.6 billion on cancer research; its budget for Alzheimer’s was $910 million.

While there are more types of cancer than there are dementia, the discrepancy frustrates many families who worry not only about a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, but future generations. Researchers have not been able to determine exactly what causes the disease, but first-degree relatives appear to have an increased risk, which worries the Thomsons and their five sons.

“There are so many people living with this. Even in our little neighborhood, I can count four people who recently or in the past have been diagnosed,” Debbie Thomson said. “And you ask yourself, What’s going on? Is there something else we can do? Do we have too many pollutants? There are no answers. We need more research.”

Things that can help

The Thomson family was devastated not only by the diagnosis, but by the speed with which Alzheimer’s took hold. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Terrell and Debbie Thomson were four months into an 18-month mission in England when they realized they would have to return home because of Terrell Thomson’s deteriorating condition. In addition to Alzheimer’s, Thomson also has Balint’s syndrome, a neurological condition that affects vision.

Debbie Thomson said her husband had a strong social network and exceptional cognition until recently and was always challenging his brain, which is advice often given for Alzheimer’s prevention. “He read every night before bed,” she said.

Dr. Terrell Thomson has a medical degree, a Ph.D. and Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed in January, and his wife Debbie is his caregiver. They pose Friday, June 23, 2017, next to a vintage 1937 Plymouth car that Terrell restored. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

But he had a heart attack more than a decade ago, and because of his demanding work schedule did not exercise regularly or get sufficient sleep. It wasn’t unusual for him to work 24-hour shifts, and he was always available to his patients day and night, his wife said.

“One of our sons said something that I thought was significant. He said, ‘Dad’s been awake more hours in his life than most people have at 90,’ and that’s probably a true statement,” Thomson said.

Researchers have known since 2009 that mice that are sleep-deprived develop the sticky plaques that are associated with dementia. Doctors speculate that the brain doesn’t have sufficient time to renew itself when people don’t get enough sleep.

Numerous studies have shown an association between exercise and improved cognition, even among people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Benefits are seen not just with vigorous workouts, but with as little as a one-hour walk three times a week, The New York Times recently reported.

Researchers speculate that exercise helps by increasing the flow of blood to the brain. They also believe exercise helps the brain maintain neural connections and stimulates the growth of new ones, according to the National Institutes of Health.

In addition, some medical experts believe that diets high in fish and vegetables provide protection against dementia’s onset and progress. And a recent study in the United Kingdom found a greater risk of dementia among people who drink alcoholic beverages in moderation.

Although the predictions for Alzheimer’s spread in the coming decades seem dire, Foster said people shouldn’t become discouraged and think there’s nothing they can do to mitigate their risk. He noted a report last year that came out of the renowned Framingham Heart Study, a multigenerational study of people in Framingham, Massachusetts, that showed the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia declined when people had regular treatment for high blood pressure and diabetes.

“For individuals who didn’t get those controlled, the rates (of dementia) were exactly the same as they were 30 years ago,” he said.

“The big news is that we can do something to decrease the rate or individuals’ risk of Alzheimer’s. There are many things we can do that will help, but it requires both health care providers, as well as patients and their families, to actively take these steps,” Foster said.

Article source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865683602/Is-Utahs-overall-good-health-responsible-for-its-high-rate-of-Alzheimers-disease.html

Good Health Never Lasts

Many critics have fixated on how cruel it is to draft a bill that squeezes sick people and old people out of the insurance market, and understandably so.

But there are pragmatic concerns, too. Like the fact that populations of people who tend to need health-care services the most—the poor, the elderly, the very ill—are in constant flux. The 5 percent of Americans who account for 50 percent of the country’s healthcare costs isn’t a static group, as Helaine Olen recently wrote for this magazine. “A chronic illness can land someone in this category but, given the increasing prevalence of high-deductible plans, so can something as simple as a broken bone or an emergency appendectomy. Although some people will be in this group year after year, many will cycle in and out, and nearly everyone will be in it for some brief period.”

Nearly everyone means me, and you, and all the people we love. Because, if we’re lucky, we’ll all eventually become very old indeed, and the likelihood that we’ll need expensive health-care along the way is quite high. (An enormous part of this is preventative care in high-risk populations, which can drive down costs—but only for those who have consistent, affordable access to care.)

Many Americans cannot afford to pay for insurance hikes under the Affordable Care Act—the cost of the most popular Obamacare plan is going up 22 percent this year. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader and author of the legislation, has argued he simply wants Americans to be free to make “the best health care decisions for their families on what types of plans they want and can afford.” But who can afford a serious illness? How can anyone plan for such a thing?

“There are no ‘healthy’ and ‘sick’ people,” wrote Ken Norton, a partner at Google Ventures, in a Twitter essay about the death of his 11-year-old son from a congenital heart defect in 2014. “Healthy people can turn into sick people really fucking suddenly… I’m here to tell you that there is no ‘us’ and ‘them,’ no responsible taxpayers and irresponsible moochers, we are them and they are us.”

The men who bristle at the idea of paying for insurance that covers women’s prenatal care would do well to remember that they themselves are former fetuses. And healthy people need to remember that they are future sick people, too.

The question of how to fix the Affordable Care Act—which, indeed, needs attention—isn’t just a question for poor people, or the elderly, or the middle class, or people with pre-existing conditions, or people who don’t have jobs, or the tens of millions more Americans who will be uninsured in a decade if the GOP’s repeal-and-replace plan passes. It is a question for all Americans, because all of us are vulnerable to a change in fortune.

Article source: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/06/good-health-never-lasts/531777/

Healthy Living: Calm Your Nervous Pet – Northern Michigan’s News Leader

They don’t have to stress about work or traffic, but your four-legged friend is still prone to mental or emotional stress.

Instead of asking your vet for medications, we’ll show you some natural ways to calm your pet that you might want to try first.

The biggest thing you can do to calm your pet is to remain calm yourself.

If you get nervous, your dog will pick up on it and get even more anxious.

During a thunderstorm or fireworks, it’s best to act like you don’t even hear them.

Article source: http://www.9and10news.com/story/35752253/healthy-living-calm-your-nervous-pet

Trinidad Express Newspapers: Letters | Exercise a boost to healthy …

Headlines in the newspapers in Trinidad and Tobago recently read “SICK TT”.

This was disheartening for me and my fianc to read as we are fitness enthusiasts and believe in the importance of living a healthy lifestyle by participating in regular exercise, eating the right foods and drinking lots of water.

We share a passion for helping people reach their fitness goals whether it be to burn fat, build muscles or just simply to look and feel better in the clothes that they wear.

We go to the gym three times a week and while there we combine cardio routines with resistance exercise in the form of weight training.

Participating in regular exercise over time has many positive physical, mental, and social health enhancing properties. The quality and vigour of your life vastly improve.

You have heard this several times but it needs to be repeated that frequent exercise reduces your risk of contracting many diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and depression.

It improves your mood and also results in improved longevity and maintenance of independence into older age.

In everything we do there are advantages and disadvantages. Exercise can have a negative effect on health in the form of injury.

The effects that sport and exercise-related injuries have on an individual’s health can be relatively minor, with only a period of rest needed.

Sport and exercise-related injuries do not just effect elite performers, but are a significant problem at every level of participation.

Around a third of all emergency consultations are directly linked to sport and exercise. Although participation in any form of activity carries a risk of injury the overall health benefits of activity far outweighs this risk.

A lot of children at the ages of 14 and 15 years are entering the hospitals with diabetes and high blood pressure.

It is time to reverse the current high rate of one in four children being overweight or obese by promoting healthy nutrition which encourages children as well as adults on making healthy food choices, using correct portion sizes, and eating fruit and vegetables on a regular basis.

I want to appeal to the public to live active lifestyles through the use of gym facilities and other fun and innovative physical activities.

This will produce and improve self-confidence and self-esteem in the children and young adults.

It should be noted happy youths with high self-esteem report less involvement with crime, and programmes that increase happiness and self-confidence could deter crime and drug use.

As you begin your workout, your brain’s neurotransmitters connect memory with muscle to get you moving. The feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment you experience during your workout stimulate the pleasure centre of your brain and lift your mood.

Consistent workouts at the gym will eventually help you achieve your fitness goals.

When you look in the mirror and see a leaner or fitter-looking body staring back at you, you are more than likely to gain improvements in self-esteem and self-confidence.

Time spent exercising with other people in a spin or aerobics class provides you with a social environment where you can reap the emotional benefits gained through the camaraderie you develop with other gym members.

It is important to remember that when it comes to physical activity, anything is better than nothing!

Start with whatever seems manageable. Even a ten-minute walk on the treadmill at the gym can be beneficial to your health. You will likely be able to increase the amount and frequency of physical activity slowly as you start to feel better.

Generally, doctors recommend about 20-30 minutes of exercise three to five times per week, but it can be a good idea to talk with your own healthcare provider to decide what’s the best plan that will work for you and suit your lifestyle.

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Article source: http://www.trinidadexpress.com/20170626/letters/exercise-a-boost-to-healthy-living

Planting the seeds of healthy living

Farmworkers at Reiter Affiliated Companies are living healthier lives nowadays thanks to a health initiative called “Sembrando Salud,” or Healthy Planting.

The program was started by Garland S. Reiter, the company’s chief executive officer, in 2009. It is believed to be the first farmworker health program in the United States and was the impetus for other large agriculture companies to start similar services.

The program began with a health clinic for farmworkers at the company. Reiter Affiliated Companies is headquartered in Oxnard and grows strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.

After finding that some farmworkers had chronic health issues, such as obesity and diabetes, Reiter partnered with UC Davis to develop a pilot health education curriculum.

The curriculum’s 10 health topics focused on farmworkers’ occupational and overall health. Sessions were offered in the evening. It was named “Pasos Saludables,” or Healthy Steps.

Three years later a study was done on the program, and it was decided that it would be better to take the program directly to the farmworkers.

The program, which is voluntary, trains field crew bosses and others interested in the voluntary program. They, in turn, train the field workers. Between 400 and 500 people graduate from the program annually. Since it began between 5,000 and 6,000 people have been trained.

Training is offered in Salinas, Santa Maria, Watsonville, Oxnard and in Mexico.

It consists of 10 20-minute sessions held once a week, said Gabby Guzman, program coordinator, who works at Reiter’s Salinas office, situated off Rossi Street.

“We talk about all the topics: diabetes, obesity, blood pressure, cholesterol and how to read nutrition labels,” Guzman said.

Training begins with a saying, such as, “A chip off the old block.” When related to healthy living that can be translated as, “If parents are eating unhealthy, so will the kids.”

The sessions finish up by promoting five health steps to healthy living: move, drink water, eat fruits and vegetables, measure food portions and your waist and share the information with family members.

Trainees then take the information they have learned to the field, where they practice their skills. For instance, they may challenge a crew to see if they can go a week without drinking sugary sodas. Also, crews began the day with warm-up exercises and do them again after their lunch break.

Reiter employees who run the program return a year later and review the five healthy steps with workers who were trained. Different sessions are offered as well.

“We’re still kind of in the development stage,” Guzman said of the program. “But we want the kind of program that will be lasting.”

Jose Rocha, a crew leader with Reiter in Watsonville who was trained as a health program leader, said, “It helps a lot because what we’ve learned during the leadership training. It helps a lot for our work and in our personal life. It motivates us and it makes us feel like the company is thinking about us. It’s a reminder to take care of our health.”

Another element of the program is monitoring farmworkers’ health, said Priscila Cisneros, program manager. Before the training sessions start 30 percent of a field crew are screened to establish a health study marker.

The company does blood work, testing glucose and hemoglobin. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels are checked and workers’ height and weight are measured.

“It’s another way of looking at the impact of the program,” Cisneros said.

“Being one of the (farmworker health) leaders has been a major accomplishment for Reiter,” she said.

Guzman, who has a degree from CSU, Monterey Bay, in collaborative health and health and human services, said working in the Sembrando Salud program is her dream job.

“It’s very fulfilling to apply everything I learned in my degree and giving back to the community,” she said.

She is one of a team of 10 that administer the program.

Reiter has expanded the program to family members of farmworkers. Free Zumba classes are available and there is an annual 5K run for workers and their families.

“The overall goal is to have fun and get you physically active,” Cisneros said. “The kids love it.”

Article source: http://www.thecalifornian.com/story/news/2017/06/27/planting-seeds-healthy-living/430951001/

Shift workers need not be zombies: 5 survival tips

Are you “working” when you are asleep but at work? Should you be paid for being on call when you are at home?

A recent study found that delaying meals because of working shifts can mess with your internal body clock. Here are five ways to survive the slog of shift work.

1 EAT WELL

When the clock strikes midnight, your body tells you to sleep, not to eat lunch.

This is why shift work can play havoc with your dietary health.

New research shows that delaying meal times or having meals at irregular times can affect your internal body rhythms. The study, published in the journal Current Biology, found that a five-hour delay in meal times causes a five-hour delay in blood glucose rhythms.

“We think this is due to changes in the clocks in our metabolic tissues but not the master clock in the brain,” said Dr Jonathan Johnston of the University of Surrey, one of the authors of the study.

It is easy to let your blood sugar levels dip too low – particularly on busy shifts – so the trick is to plan ahead and organise what to eat during and around shifts.

“Make sure the fridge is stocked with healthy choices,” said Ms Suzy Reading, a chartered psychologist. “One way to do this is by cooking meals in batches and reheating them through the week.”

She also recommends taking pre- prepared meals with you if it is difficult to get healthy options at work.

What you eat can make a big difference, said Mr Chris Simon, a personal trainer. “If you want to have a high amount of energy to pull you through a shift, you should include brown rice in your meal. It contains manganese, which helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates.”

Mr Simon suggests meals with about 3g protein, 3.5g starch (containing manganese) and around 6g of leafy greens. “This will give you a lot of energy, even at the end of your shift,” he said.

2 EXERCISE

It is unlikely that you will finish a night shift and want to head straight to the gym for a workout.

However, you may want to plan a few activity sessions around your shifts, whether it is a quick swim before you start work or a long walk on your day off.

“When it comes to exercise, fit it in whenever you can,” said Ms Reading. “Any movement will do, including following some of the exercise routines on YouTube.”

Remember that exercise is not just about physical health, it is also about mental health, she said.

“Any movement, even gentle forms, has a potent antidepressant action. So, if energy is low or you are exercising before going to bed, opt for something soothing, such as a yoga session or a walk.”

3 TAKE BREAKS

All shift workers should be given adequate rest breaks (at least 20 minutes if the working day is longer than six hours) and those who are doing monotonous or hazardous work must be given more, said Ms Laura Livingstone , a partner at law firm Gordon Dadds.

“Night workers should work no more than eight hours in any 24-hour period,” she said. It is in the employer’s interests to have a healthy workforce, she added.

4 ENJOY A SOCIAL LIFE

If you work unsocial hours, including weekends, it can be hard to fit in a social life. But stressing about it is not good for your mental health or your relationships, said Ms Anna Percy-Davis, executive and careers coach at Well Aware.

“When it comes to enjoying time with friends and family around awkward shift-work hours, quality rather than quantity needs to be the focus,” she said.

She suggests finding ways to spend time together and ensuring that those closest to you appreciate that you may be tired or your time with them is going to be limited.

“This does not mean you have to act like a martyr or that you expect loads of sympathy,” she said. “It’s about making those moments when you are together fun rather than stressed. Spending time with family and friends requires more effort when you are a shift worker, but it is not impossible.”

5 HOW TO SLEEP AND UNWIND

Sleeping during the day can be a nightmare with noise and light (eye pads and earphones can help), and can have long-term effects.

While you could try resetting your body clock by sleeping under the stars on your nights off – a study suggests that camping can help reset circadian rhythms – that is not a practical year-round solution.

Instead, try sleeping in a darkened room with your smartphone switched off, sipping chamomile or lavender tea and using an app for meditation to help you wind down.

THE GUARDIAN

Article source: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/shift-workers-need-not-be-zombies-5-survival-tips