FOR YOUR HEALTH: Small Changes Can Mean Big Differences In Blood Pressure Control

(NAPSI)—Almost half of the U.S. adult population has high blood pressure—that’s any reading at or above 130 for the top number or 80 for the bottom number.

If you find yourself among them, it may be wise to consider four lifestyle evaluation questions:

  1. How often do you eat fruits and vegetables?
  2. How much salt do you take in?
  3. Are you at least moderately active for half an hour a day?
  4. Are you at a healthy weight for your height?

What To Do

If your assessment reveals room for improvement, Michael Hochman, M.D., MPH, a Los Angeles physician and professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, has an encouraging message for you: “Know this: Small changes can make big differences. You don’t have to overhaul everything you do and eat. Tracking your blood pressure between health care visits lets you easily stay on top of your health. In 10 minutes or less, you can check your numbers. If you are learning for the first time that your blood pressure is creeping upward, small changes in your lifestyle—a bit more physical activity, a few more fruits and vegetables—could mean the difference between low vs. high risk for heart disease or stroke.”

Here are some hints to help you make those small changes:

  • 15−20 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per day can reduce the top number in your blood pressure reading, called systolic pressure, by 5 to 8 mmHg
  • Reducing sodium intake by 1,500 mg (3/4 of a teaspoon) per day can result in lowering systolic pressure 5 to 6 mmHg
  • A 10-pound weight loss could lower systolic blood pressure by 5 mmHg.

Little-Known BP Raisers

If you do have high BP, consult your health care provider or pharmacist about the safety of your over-the-counter medicines.

Some OTC pain relievers, known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs—such as naproxen and ibuprofen—may raise blood pressure. Acetaminophen may be a better choice for pain. Drugstore cold and flu medicines that contain decongestants can also raise blood pressure. To avoid these BP raisers, read medication labels and discuss alternative pain, fever or cold medicine with your doctor. A quick guide to BP raisers is at

Take It Home

Monitoring at home can help confirm a diagnosis and determine how well your lifestyle changes and medications are working to reduce your blood pressure.

The American Heart Association’s efforts to improve healthy choices related to living with high blood pressure are proudly supported by Tylenol.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Can You Afford an Unexpected Hospital Bill? Preparing Your Family for Unforeseen Costs

(NAPSI)—Whether it’s a broken leg or the flu, illness and injuries that result in hospital stays are unfortunately commonplace for American families.

After a hospital stay, you’ll likely pay your entire deductible before your health insurance starts paying benefits. You may still be exposed to expenses your major medical may not cover, leaving you responsible for the entire amount.

Protect against rising hospital costs with Hospital Assure from Washington National.

Medical emergencies and rising hospital costs are a major financial concern for most Americans. The average hospital stay costs over $10,700 and hospital bills are the largest out-of-pocket expense for people who filed for medical bankruptcy.1

Hospital Assure, Washington National’s new hospital indemnity insurance product, complements existing health insurance by paying lump-sum cash benefits in the event you or a covered family member are hospitalized due to a covered sickness or accident. You can use your cash benefits to help pay:

  • Deductibles
  • Co-pays
  • Out-of-network hospital costs, and
  • Everyday bills and expenses when you’re unable to work.

Because cash benefits from Hospital Assure are paid directly to you, not a doctor or hospital, you have no restrictions on how you use your benefits.

For individuals without a health savings account, Hospital Assure offers an optional Return of Premium/Cash Value Benefit rider, a distinctly competitive feature in the marketplace that allows you to get 100 percent of your premiums paid, minus any claims incurred, at the end of the rider period. This means if you don’t use your policy, the premiums you paid will end up back in your pocket. Learn more at

Business Insider, The 35 most expensive reasons you might have to visit a hospital in the US—and how much it costs if you do,, March 1, 2018.

  • Washington National Insurance Company is not licensed and does not solicit business in the state of New York.

LIMITED-BENEFIT POLICIES. These policies have limitations and exclusions. For costs and complete details of coverage, contact an agent. Policies and benefits are subject to state availability and may vary by state. Underwritten by Washington National Insurance Company. The return of premium (ROP) or cash value (CV) (in MO, “cash return”) benefit is subject to state and product availability. The benefit has an additional charge and may pay minus claims or regardless of claims based on the policy selected. The policy must remain in force until the end of the ROP/CV period for the benefit to be paid.

Debunking the myths about donating bone marrow

The National Marrow Donor Program has published information on the website to dispel the misinformation concerning marrow donation. The following information are excerpts from their site to correct the myths that may be holding back potential donors from registering.

Chance Cunningham, a young boy from the town of China,  who was recently the recipient of a bone marrow transplant.

Myth #1: Bone Marrow Donation Requires Surgery.

Three out of four donations are made through a nonsurgical technique called PBSC, peripheral blood stem cell donation. This technique removes the blood-forming cells from the donor’s blood through a needle in the donor’s arm much like a regular blood donation procedure.

Myth #2: Pieces of Bone are Removed.

This is never the case. Donors only provide the liquid marrow which is taken from the pelvic bone.

Myth #3: Donating Bone Marrow is Painful.

In the 25 percent of cases for which surgery is required, the donor is put under general anesthesia and feels no pain. Donors generally return home the same day and go back to their usual routine within a week.

Myth #4: Donating Bone Marrow is Bad for the Donor’s Heath.

Less than five percent of the donor’s marrow is removed, which is not enough to cause any health problems. These cells replace themselves in four to six weeks.

Myth #5: Donating is Costly to the Donor.

Bone Marrow donors do not pay to donate. The National Marrow Donor Program pays for the donor’s travel cost.

Myth #6: The Need for Bone Marrow Donors is Declining

Annually, more than 10,000 Americans are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases, such as leukemia or lymphoma, for which the only cure is a bone marrow transplant. Their lives literally depend on finding suitable donor matches before it is too late.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Do I Need Bunion Surgery?

by Brett Sachs, DPM, FACFAS
Foot & Ankle Surgeon practicing in Denver, CO
Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons

(NAPSI)—One in five Americans suffers from bunions. A bunion, or hallux valgus, starts out as redness and a bump on the side of the foot near the big toe. Over time, bunions can cause chronic pain and restrict movement.

Bunions are progressive and don’t go away on their own, so it’s important for people with bunions to see a foot and ankle surgeon who will evaluate the severity of the deformity and develop a treatment plan. Nonsurgical treatments may reduce the chance of damage to the joint and ease the pain of bunions. However, these treatments will not reverse the deformity itself. If the pain begins interfering with normal daily activities, surgical intervention will typically be the next step.

Until recently, the procedure had been very painful and the recovery difficult. However, foot and ankle surgeons have made several advancements in surgical techniques and patients return to normal activities sooner. Recovery typically takes four to six weeks.

Foot and ankle surgeons implement pain management techniques following bunion surgery, including using nerve blocks, postsurgical pain pumps, and vitamin C and calcium supplements. These let patients recover fully with minimal pain.

For more information or to find a foot and ankle surgeon nearby, visit, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ patient education website.

Brett Sachs, DPM, FACFAS is a board-certified foot and ankle surgeon and Fellow Member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Age Healthier With These Five Tips

(NAPSI)—As your wisdom grows with age, so can the number of pill bottles in your medicine cabinet. For those “young-at-heart” seniors, sticking to healthy habits is the key to aging well. With some simple steps, you can keep a healthy routine that also gives you more time to do the things you love. Joe Koren, pharmacy manager at Walgreens, shares his top five tips for managing your health with a busy schedule:

1. Consult the experts

You know to go for regular checkups with your general practitioner, but don’t forget that pharmacists can also be accessible experts to answer questions about your health. In fact, your pharmacist is a licensed professional who provides different health care services including immunizations and can help you understand why and how to take your medications to support effective treatment. Some pharmacies offer extended hours, and 24-hour chat with pharmacy staff is available whenever you need it. Many locations also have health care clinics to treat minor injuries and illness, which can be a convenient and cost-efficient alternative to a doctor’s visit.

2. Let your smartphone help you

With a packed list of to-dos, friends to meet and grandchildren to watch, medication routines can easily slip the mind. Luckily, your mobile phone is a helpful tool to keep track of your medications, right in the palm of your hand. For example, the Walgreens app can help you set daily pill reminder notifications, so you never miss a dose. You can also find close-by health care providers and arrange a video call for a face-to-face consultation with a physician or specialist through the app. If using your smartphone comes with its challenges, ask one of the pharmacy staff or a family member to help set it up for you.

3. Simplify your prescription refills

Multiple prescriptions can mean multiple trips to the pharmacy each month. A trained pharmacist can recommend convenient refill options such as aligning multiple refill trips to one single date, switching to 90-day refills or having eligible prescriptions sent directly to your home. All these services can make it easier to stay on your medication schedule and help save time.

4. Find perks in your Medicare D plan

So you’ve signed up for your Medicare Part D plan, but are you using it to save money? Fortunately, many prescription drug plans include Walgreens in their preferred pharmacy network, which could mean a convenient way to lower your co-pays. A little bit of research into the right combination of plan, provider and pharmacy can go a long way to help you save money. Walgreens pharmacies even conduct senior days, giving you extra advice on health care topics and special offers.

5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

They say age is only a number, and when you’re in control of your health, that’s very true! With the time and money you’ll save from these tips, think about how you can embark on and maintain an even healthier lifestyle. Why not challenge yourself to walk for at least 30 minutes a day, connect with friends and family, or take the time to prepare nutritious meals?

These five small steps can all contribute to a healthier life, and free up time and head space for the things you really love.

For additional information on tools to make medication management more convenient, visit

FOR YOUR HEALTH: New Brain Health Initiative Could Unlock Mysteries Of Alzheimer’s, Dementia

(NAPSI)—Scientists are contemplating important questions about health, mind and age: Could your blood hold the molecular secrets to a fountain of youth, preventing age-related brain disorders? Are brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease caused by a failure of interconnected systems, triggering a dominolike cascade of disease? Can targeting the red blood cells and blood vessels jointly keep your brain healthy and prevent dementia?

The Problem

As people live longer, Alzheimer’s and other age-related dementias are on the rise, projected to reach more than 75 million people worldwide by 2030. To date, no effective therapy has been developed for these disorders, which are not only deadly but exact a high financial and emotional toll on society.

The Research

To find solutions, three large-scale research teams are exploring those questions as part of an initiative to merge research of the brain and the blood vessels to develop new understanding of—and, ultimately, better preventions and treatments for—age-related brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The Scientists

To help, American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization focused on heart and brain health, and The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, a division of the Allen Institute, launched the $43 million research project to bridge the science of vascular and brain health through revolutionary, out-of-the-box thinking. Additional supporters include the Oskar Fischer Project and the Henrietta B. and Frederick H. Bugher Foundation.

The three teams, headquartered at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.; Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif.; and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Cleveland, OH, respectively, work to develop new solutions to the urgent problem of age-related cognitive decline. The researchers are:

  • “Rusty” Gage, Ph.D., a neuroscience researcher and president of Salk, who will lead an eight-year project looking into new targets for therapeutic research and biomarkers of early-stage cognitive decline.
  • Tony Wyss-Coray, Ph.D., a professor of neurology at Stanford, who will lead a four-year project studying how changes in the immune system affect cognitive health.
  • Mukesh K. Jain, M.D., a cardiologist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, who will lead a team of investigators on a four-year project investigating whether targeting red blood cells and blood vessels can prevent dementia.

The Hope

The research could yield transformational discoveries to better detect, treat and prevent cognitive decline.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Cold, painful fingers can mean a serious disease

(NAPSI) — “Zombie Hands.” That’s what can happen to an estimated 5 to 10 percent of the population when temperatures start to fall.

In a typical case of Raynaud’s phenomenon, also known as Raynaud’s disease or syndrome, sufferers experience numbness and pain in their fingers, toes and other extremities. Fingers turn white, blue or red as the small blood vessels go into spasm within minutes of exposure to cold or stress, and they appear to be “dead” as blood flow is constricted.

Named for the French physician Maurice Raynaud, who first recognized the condition in 1862, it causes an interruption of blood flow to the fingers, toes, nose or ears. There may be associated tingling, swelling or painful throbbing. The attacks may last from minutes to hours. In severe cases, the area may develop ulcerations and infections, which can lead to gangrene.

Raynaud’s can occur as a “primary” disease—that is, with no associated disorder—or as a “secondary” condition related to other diseases, such as scleroderma, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

“Ninety percent of Raynaud’s sufferers don’t seek treatment and too many physicians pay short shrift to those who do,” says Lynn Wunderman, founder and chair of the Raynaud’s Association. “Treatment is important because some sufferers may have an underlying condition such as systemic scleroderma or lupus. Awareness of such a problem may allow for earlier medical intervention.” Simple blood tests can rule out the presence of antibodies associated with diseases that have Raynaud’s as a component.

What’s Being Done

To help, the Raynaud’s Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit health organization, launched a new and assertive campaign,”Don’t Turn a Cold Shoulder to Painful Fingers,” to urge those with the disorder—and their doctors—not to dismiss the pain that Raynaud’s sufferers endure, or the lifestyle adjustments they make to minimize exposure to cold or stress.

Although there is no known cure as yet, treatment options such as calcium channel blocker drugs have been clinically proven to alleviate symptoms by opening up the blood vessels so blood circulates more freely.

How To Lend A Warm Helping Hand

You can support the Raynaud’s Association with a tax-deductible donation. Contributions help fund member mailings, the website, awareness-building efforts, and thousands of educational materials distributed each year to sufferers.

Learn More

For more facts, visit

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Why It’s Wise To Hire Veterans With Disabilities

(NAPSI) — “Today, nearly 4 million Americans have a service-connected disability. At a time when many employers are struggling to fill positions, hiring veterans with disabilities can boost diversity and inclusion efforts,” explained Jeff Hall, national employment director for DAV (Disabled American Veterans).

For example, Dave Ellis found it difficult to get a job after receiving an honorable discharge from the Army. “I had a severe back injury, but I also carried mental scars from active duty,” he said. After six months of searching, he was able to find a supportive company that understands and values the traits that come from military training, including job-ready skills, tested leadership abilities and a mission-focused work ethic.

For others, however, it can be a struggle. In fact, a survey in The Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation found that 57 percent of veterans with disabilities transitioning to the civilian workforce feared hiring discrimination due to their disability.

“The reality is that many of America’s businesses, big and small alike, recognize the importance of hiring veterans with disabilities, but often don’t know where to begin,” added Hall.

To address this need, DAV has published “The Veteran Advantage: DAV Guide to Hiring and Retaining Veterans with Disabilities.” This free, comprehensive guide is the result of more than four years of study about what the veteran community contributes to the workforce and how hiring veterans, especially disabled ones, can improve a company’s bottom line.

The 36-page publication, which can be downloaded at, offers best practices and helpful tools for employers. But it goes further, helping to correct misperceptions and inspire more organizations to hire from this talent pool. Content includes statistics about veterans with disabilities, in-depth on-boarding and retention strategies, a practical checklist for employers, and explanations of financial incentives, tax credits and other support.

The Guide also highlights powerful testimonials of veterans thriving in successful careers, and case studies from employers who benefit from having disabled veterans in their workplace. Nationally respected companies such as First Data and USAA apply the findings within their own internal human resources departments and hiring teams.

There are also free and helpful resources that veterans themselves can take advantage of to help with the transition into a civilian career. For example, DAV holds free career fairs throughout the country for veterans and their spouses. Details are available at

“While our nation’s veterans, particularly those who have been injured in service, are faced with unique challenges, they also offer the skill sets, loyalty and dedication needed to help successfully power America’s economy,” said Hall.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Long-Distance Care-giving

(NAPSI)—Chances are, at some point you will be a caregiver to a friend or family member. Providing care and support can be challenging in any circumstance, but caring for a loved one who lives far away presents a unique set of challenges.

When providing care for loved ones who do not live nearby, keep the following three tips in mind.

Plan ahead. Learn your loved one’s medical wishes, contact information for doctors as well as important financial and insurance information.

Research community options. Many older adults need a little help to stay healthy and independent. Area Agencies on Aging and other community-based organizations can connect caregivers to programs that help with transportation, personal care services, nutrition, home modification and repairs, legal services, falls prevention programs and more.

Care for yourself. The Eldercare Locator can connect caregivers to local resources that can help, including caregiver support programs that can provide training, and support groups and other resources that help caregivers better support their loved ones—and themselves.

The Eldercare Locator can help both care recipients and their long-distance caregivers. Through its website,, and national Call Center at (800) 677-1116, the Eldercare Locator connects long-distance caregivers to resources that can provide assistance where it is needed most—in the care recipient’s own community. The Eldercare Locator is funded by the U.S. Administration for Community Living and is administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

FOR YOUR HEALTH: It’s Never Too Late To Achieve A Healthy Weight

(NAPSI)—People often think of the New Year as a time to set new goals for healthy eating and physical activity. But weight management requires ongoing effort, during the holidays and every day. That’s why the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health, is promoting simple tips and tools to help Americans start and maintain healthy habits.

“Why wait to start improving your health when you can start today?” NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers said in a statement. “It’s never too soon or too late to achieve a healthy weight.”

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight through healthy food choices and regular physical activity may help lower the risk of developing health problems associated with obesity, such as heart disease, kidney disease and Type 2 diabetes. About 40 percent of adults and 19 percent of children and teens in the United States have obesity, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Continue or establish healthier eating habits, such as reducing the overall calories you consume and limiting your intake of foods and beverages with added sugars, fats and salt. Bringing healthier versions of your favorite dishes to holiday gatherings, and choosing smaller portions of holiday treats and alcohol, may help with managing weight during this time of year.

The NIDDK recommends making physical activity a priority for the whole family. Choosing a set time for physical activity and sticking to it may help you manage stress, improve your mood, and give you the energy to tackle your busy schedule. If it’s too cold to walk or run outdoors, take your workout to your favorite mall or indoor sports field. Even if you’re pressed for time, doing some physical activity is better than skipping your workout and doing nothing.

Another tip to consider during the holiday season and every day to improve health and manage weight is to reduce screen time and time spent sitting. Watching TV for more than two hours a day has been linked to overweight and obesity. Try creating a holiday-themed playlist and having a dance party. You can have fun dancing alone or with family or friends.

To further encourage adults and youth to be active, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also recently released new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The new Guidelines recommend that adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, such as brisk walking or dancing. Youth ages six through 17 need one hour each day, and children ages three through six should be active throughout the day.

By establishing and sticking to healthy habits, parents, caregivers and youth may achieve better health together during the holiday season and beyond.

To find more tips and resources for weight management and healthy living during the holidays and every day, visit the NIDDK website: