LET'S TALK HEALTH: ALZHEIMER'S AWARENESS
Long term memory seems to be one of the things we can always count on. You know your way home, The names of family members and where certain rooms of your house are. What happens when those things seem to be harder to grasp from the memory bank? For more than 5 Million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease this is a daily struggle.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder in which the death of brain cells results in memory loss and cognitive disruption and decline. In early stages, someone afflicted by the disease may show signs of difficulty remembering but eventually dramatic changes in personality and severe memory loss are a result.
The risk for Alzheimer’s disease increases with age and usually begins in people age 60 or older. Alzheimer’s currently is an incurable disease but there are medications and treatment programs that suppress symptoms. The rate at which the disease progresses varies from person to person but in the long term persons afflicted may require total care from a caregiver.
While there is no one set cause, leading researchers believe conditions that lead to diagnosis are associated with genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors.
Genetically people with a family history of having Alzheimer’s associate themselves with a higher risk of diagnosis. The gene apolipoprotein E(APOE) increases chances of risk by three. People with cases of Down syndrome share a risk as well.
While the above factors are unavoidable, some factors can be taken control of. Diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which also create a risk of heart disease increase risk of stroke which itself can lead to other types of dementia i.e (Vascular Dementia.)
The role of the caregiver is very important in lives of persons living with Alzheimer’s. Nearly 15 million Americans provide unpaid care to people living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Primarily because most families try to provide in family care to those diagnosed. Alz.org notes several tips for caregivers during the different stages:
Communication in Early Stage:
- Don’t make assumptions about a person’s ability to communicate because of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The disease affects each person differently.
- Don’t exclude the person with the disease from conversations with others….. https://www.alz.org/care/dementia-communication-tips.asp
Communication in Middle Stage:
- Allow time for response so the person can think about what he or she wants to say.
- Engage the person in one-on-one conversation in a quiet space that has minimal distractions…..https://www.alz.org/care/dementia-communication-tips.asp
Communication in Late Stage:
- Treat the person with dignity and respect. Avoid talking down to the person or as if he or she isn’t there.
- Approach the person from the front and identify yourself.
- Encourage nonverbal communication. If you don’t understand what is being said, ask the person to point or gesture. https://www.alz.org/care/dementia-communication-tips.asp
35% of caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia report that their health has gotten worse due to care responsibilities, so it is important to remember individual health needs as well.
If you require additional information on Alzheimer's the links provided aid in the understanding of the disease and its effects.
LET'S TALK HEALTH: BREAST CANCER AWARENESS
Nearly 1 in 8 U.S women will develop a form of invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. You are a decision away from the rest of your life. How will you prepare?
Breast cancer is caused as a result of the bodily process of producing cells. When the body produces unnecessary cells it doesn’t need and old and damaged cells don’t die, the buildup forms a mass of tissue forming lumps or tumors. When those malignant tumors develop in the breast, a Breast Cancer diagnosis is given.
Every woman’s goal is to know what she can do to lower her risk of Breast Cancer but the main risk factors reside in gender and age. Genetics can’t be changed and age growth is inevitable. Making healthy life choices is essential, managing weight, regular exercise, eating healthy and removing smoking habits all aid.
Middle age women are the largest group diagnosed with Breast Cancer. In women under 45 breast cancer diagnoses are more common amongst African American woman compared to Caucasian women. While among women over 60, Caucasian women have higher risk of breast cancer compared to African American women. These differences are a direct result of lifestyle choices typical amongst varying ethnicities.
Due to the fact that Breast Cancer has varying risk factors and causes the most effective way to stay prepared is to be aware of the changes in your body, specifically the breast. Self check examinations are an effective primary measure. Women between the ages of 40 and 44, outside of regular self checks can begin Mammograms if they wish. Women ages 45 to 54 are encouraged for regular yearly mammograms. For women over the age to 55 mammograms can be scheduled every 2 years or yearly depending on individual preference.
Regular mammograms and other forms of early detection are key in reducing fatal risks. In 2017, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed. This is alongside the expected 63,410 new in situ (cancer that has not moved past the tissue of origin) cases of breast cancer.
Odds are less likely for men to be diagnosed with breast cancer. An estimated 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to occur among U.S men in 2017.
Breast Cancer survival rates are rising in part to better awareness and early detection.
LET'S TALK HEALTH: DIABETES AWARENESS
You have 114 million reasons to keep reading this article, specifically because 114 million represents the number of Americans living with diabetes or prediabetes. With worse case scenarios ending in stroke, vision loss and heart & kidney disease, Diabetes is an important health concern to keep track of in our bodies.
Diabetes is a disease that affects how our bodies turn food into energy. With 84 million Americans at risk of prediabetes (severe risk of development), the actual diagnosis of Diabetes is a real possibility.
The body breaks down a majority of the food we eat into sugars also called glucose. When those sugars are successfully released into the bloodstream the pancreas emits a hormone called insulin which allows blood sugar to enter into cells to use as energy. When one is diagnosed with Diabetes, your body usually cannot make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it has created effectively.
The positive thing about Diabetes is that while there currently is no cure, healthier life choices can reduce the likelihood of development.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes is usually known as Juvenile Diabetes. Diagnosis is more common amongst children, teens and young adults but can occur at any age.
While there is no specific cause of Type 1 diabetes, it specifically occurs when the pancreas produces little to no insulin. In most cases the body’s immune system itself mistakenly attacks the insulin producing cells. That process can go on for years before any noticeable symptoms appear.
Risk factors for Type 1 Diabetes typically arise from Family History, Genetics, Geography and Age. Because Type 1 Diabetes symptoms are similar to other health conditions, it’s important to get your blood sugar tested as soon as possible.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is the most common amongst the factions. 90%-95% of the 30 million people living with diabetes have type 2.
Type 2 diabetes happens when cells don’t react to insulin the way they should. These cells are then called insulin resistant. As a result of the insulin resistant cells, your pancreas attempts to cope by producing more insulin to produce a positive response among the cells. Consequently an excess amount of insulin is produced. As blood sugars rise Type 2 diabetes occurs.
You are at risk for Type 2 diabetes if you are:
- 45 years or older
- Have a parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes
- Are physically active less than 3 times a week.
- Have ever had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or given birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds.
- Are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, or Alaska Native (some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk)
Gestational Diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop in pregnant women with no prior diagnosis of diabetes. 2% to 10% of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes happens when your body fails to make enough insulin during pregnancy. During pregnancy your body’s natural changes like (increased hormones and weight gain) are the reason insulin is used less effectively. All pregnant women experience a certain amount of insulin resistance during the later stages in pregnancy however when pregnancies start with an increased need for insulin there is a likelihood of developing gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes can result in the risk of needing to deliver your baby through cesarean means. Gestational diabetes can result in a higher risk of your baby being
- Very large (9 pounds or more)
- Premature delivery
- Having low blood sugar
- Type 2 diabetes prone
It is not uncommon for gestational diabetes to recede after delivery but about 50% of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop Type 2.
It is imperative that if you find yourself at risk of any form of diabetes, that you remain appropriately active, eat healthily, and contact a doctor that can establish the best possible plan to keep your health in check. While November is national diabetes month, awareness and concern should be extended year long.
LET'S TALK HEALTH: PrEP & PEP
There are contraceptives, Plan B and then there’s Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is designed for people with high risk of contracting HIV and is meant to help lower their chances of being infected.
PrEP is designed as a combination of two HIV medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine), the drugs are sold under the name Truvada®. Truvada® is approved for daily consistent use for HIV-negative persons whom may be at risk of exposure to HIV from a sexual or injection-drug-using partner who is positive.
PrEP has been deemed effective in limiting the transmission of HIV from partner to mother and mother to child in relationships where one partner is HIV positive and pregnancy is being sought out. PrEP is to be seen as the best option to protect the baby from contraction during pregnancy, breast feeding and intercourse.
This drug may work well if you indulge in same sex intercourse regularly, consistent sex with partners of unknown status and if you are a gay or bisexual man who has had anal sex and has been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months.
Life threatening side effects have not been observed from usage of PrEP, but side effects have occurred. Among these are Nausea.
PrEP does not protect against any other STD other than HIV and should not be used as a final barrier against HIV contraction. Condoms and other contraceptives should still be used and PrEP lowers the risk even more when combined with other means of protection.
For most reliability PrEP should be taken at least 7days in advance of receptive anal sex and 20days in advance for receptive vaginal sex and injection drug use. PrEP is not for people who believe they have already been exposed to HIV. PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is the option for someone who believes they were recently infected.
PEP is the process of taking antiretroviral medicines after potential exposure to prevent permanant infection. PEP should be done within 72 hours of possible exposure and may need to be taken at least once or twice daily for 28 days.