Category

Heartbeat

Prevention is Beautiful

By | Partnership | No Comments

Melanoma is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 25-30. Shelby Moneer, Director of Education at the Melanoma Research Foundation, shares how her perception of beauty has evolved since becoming a parent.


Shelby and daughter, Ava.

In 2014, I wrote a blog about the changes I’d experienced in my first two years of being a mother. Not so much about motherhood itself, but about protective instincts and how “beauty” seems to take on a different meaning. These experiences have helped to shape and strengthen my work with the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) and the melanoma community we serve. In the eight years since joining the MRF and working within this community, so much has changed…or has it?

Well, let’s take a look. Melanoma continues to be diagnosed at alarming rates and impacts people of every age, race and gender. It is the leading cause of cancer death in women aged 25-30. That’s right – more young women are lost to melanoma than any other cancer. That’s a statistic I take note of every day. Maybe it’s because I’m only a few (okay, a handful) of years removed from that age group, or maybe it’s because of my 5-year-old. I cringe when I see young women with unnaturally tanned skin or bright red sunburns next to the lines of natural skin where a bathing suit once was.

My daughter is now 5 – but sometimes acts like she’s 25 – and I can’t help but wonder, like all parents, if I’m doing this parenting thing right. We talk about bike helmets, seat belts, being a nice friend. We also talk about how everyone is different. She reminds me of this when she tells me that she doesn’t like something. “It’s okay, mom, because everyone is different. You like it, but I don’t.” See that comment above about being 25?

So far, I know that my husband and I have raised a young girl with a great deal of confidence, a strong personality, a good sense of humor and a love of sunscreen (or at least sunscreen application). I don’t know yet if she truly understands how dangerous too much sun can be. I haven’t talked to her about what exactly UV radiation is and how it can hurt us. She doesn’t know what cancer is. Or that the sun can cause it. I imagine we’ll tackle those topics soon, but not yet.

If I’ve learned anything over the past 5 years of parenting, it’s that sometimes I sound like a broken record. I repeat my message so my daughter hears me, listens to me, and understands me. Similarly, in melanoma prevention and early detection, I’ve learned that the message must be repeated and it must be communicated in a way that makes consumers want to engage, connect and take action. That’s why the MRF is excited to partner with Outcome Health to bring much needed attention to melanoma right at the point of care. Informed and empowered patients are the most important member of their health care team and relationships like this are critical to spreading awareness and preventative measures against the deadliest form of skin cancer.

To read Shelby’s original blog post, click here.

###

Shelby Moneer is the Director of Education at the Melanoma Research Foundation and  is responsible for all development, implementation and assessment of the education program. Shelby was elected as the Co-Chair to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention for 2017-2020. She and her husband have two young children and live in St. Louis, MO. They enjoy playing and watching sports, spending time outdoors and being surrounded with friends and family.

The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is the largest independent organization devoted to melanoma. Committed to the support of medical research in finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma, the MRF also educates patients and physicians about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of melanoma. The MRF is a dedicated advocate for the melanoma community, helping to raise awareness of this disease and the need for a cure. More information is available at www.melanoma.org.

New Guidelines for Colon and Rectal Cancer Screenings

By | Partnership | No Comments

The American Cancer Society has updated its guidelines for colon and rectal cancer screenings and recommends that adults get screened started at age 45 instead of 50. The Colorectal Cancer Alliance commends and endorses this effort.

On May 30, 2018, the American Cancer Society announced newly updated guidelines for colon and rectal screening. Adults at average risk should get screened as early as age 45 instead of 50. We reached out to our friends at the Colorectal Cancer Alliance for their thoughts:

The increasing incidence of colorectal cancer in younger adults is an epidemic within the cancer community. By 2030, 10.9 percent of all colon cancers and 22.9 percent of all rectal cancers will be diagnosed in patients younger than age 50.

Together we must defy and redefine the odds. Today, the American Cancer Society proposed new guidelines that colorectal cancer screening should begin at age 45 for people of average risk.

If this new guideline is adopted, fewer people will be lost to this senseless killer. We commend the American Cancer Society and fully endorse their new guideline and commitment to saving lives.

Recently, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance established the Never Too Young Advisory Board so we may all join forces and take action around the issue of young-onset colorectal cancer. We plan to invest $10 million in critical research by 2021, which includes $3 million specifically for young-onset colorectal cancer. We will also double the number of constituents we serve and save 100,000 lives by 2026 through increased screening.

Across America, our Never Too Young Advisory Board will work tirelessly to educate primary care physicians and gastrointestinal medical professionals around symptoms of young-onset colorectal cancer. We will challenge insurance companies to step up to the plate and protect the young-onset population.

While this action by the American Cancer Society does not mean colorectal cancer screening tests will now be covered by insurance plans for people under age 50, it is a wonderful victory, and it’s up to all of us to keep moving the needle forward.

Michael Sapienza, CEO
Colorectal Cancer Alliance

Read the full version of Michael’s statement here

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is a national nonprofit committed to ending colorectal cancer. Working with our nation of passionate allies, we diligently support the needs of patients and families, caregivers, and survivors, eagerly raise awareness of preventative screening, and continually strive to fund critical research. As allies in the struggle, we are fiercely determined to end colorectal cancer within our lifetime. For more information, visit ccalliance.org.

Take #IBDBeyondBorders on World IBD Day!

By | Partnership | No Comments

Saturday, May 19 is World IBD Day. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is working hard to break down borders, make IBD visible, educate others for better understanding, and strengthen the fight to find cures for IBD.

More than 10 million people worldwide live with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Known collectively as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are painful, medically incurable diseases that attack the digestive system, causing abdominal pain, persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, fever, weight loss, and more.

May 19 marks World IBD Day – a day in which people worldwide unite in the fight against Crohn’s and colitis and raise awareness of the debilitating nature of these chronic incurable digestive diseases.

Every patient experiences IBD differently. Location, symptoms, and severity all vary, as do the ways the disease can affect you outside of the gut. And all of this is underscored by the awareness, understanding, and care that is available where you live. Because of this, IBD is truly a disease that goes beyond borders – geographic, physical, and emotional.

Below a few patients share their experiences living with Crohn’s or colitis:

Shawn, Ulcerative Colitis

“[Since my surgery,] I now live a life I never knew was possible – a life with very little colitis symptoms. Through my experiences, my biggest lesson learned is to never give up. There were so many nights when I sat in bed and cried, on someone’s toilet crying, in the hospital crying. Wanting it all to be over, this life to be over. – But because I went through it and learned from it, I am a much stronger person.”

Mitchell, Crohn’s Disease

“During the period of diagnosis, I had gotten very sick. I had lost over 60 pounds, I was throwing up every time I ate, and I had to quit sports because I couldn’t hold my own. I was to the point where I wanted to give up. I basically cut myself off from the world around me; I didn’t attend many school events, and I only told a few people what was wrong with me.

It took me about a year to finally accept my diagnosis and move on with life. One night, I just got sick of living life in the dark and I told myself that this is the life that I was given and that I am going to try and make the biggest difference I can. My family and friends have helped me cope and have given me so much support; I will never be able to thank them enough.”

Rena, Ulcerative Colitis

“Eight years after my initial diagnosis I found myself with a permanent ostomy. Her name is Rita, and together we are learning how to regain our lives back. I am thankful that she allows me to be able to study, travel, swim and indulge in my passion for cooking. I chronicle my journey on my blog, and hope that my story can help to support and inspire other young ostomates like me. My journey with IBD has also led me on a path to pursue a degree in acupuncture, something that has brought an invigorated joy for learning and a passion to help other patients suffering from chronic diseases.”

Shaun, Indeterminate Colitis

“By the age of nine, my mom (who was a total rock star throughout the entire process I love you, mom) and doctors at Children’s Hospital in Boston decided to remove my colon. My body just couldn’t take the pain caused by my damaged, inflamed colon. At age 11 (or was it 12?), I had another surgery to remove a piece of my small intestine due to an intestinal blockage caused my scar tissue. This surgery, unfortunately, reduced my chances of having a j pouch a procedure my doctors said I was a strong candidate for at one point. Since the age of nine, I have been lucky enough to live free of any intestinal symptoms of IBD. My surgery was truly a life-saver.”

 

Help raise awareness on World IBD Day and tag #IBDBeyondBorders with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Visit www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/WorldIBDDay to see all the ways you can get involved.

###

Rebecca Kaplan is the public affairs & social media manager for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, the largest non-profit, voluntary, health organization dedicated to finding cures for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). The Foundation’s mission is to cure Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults who are affected by these diseases. The Foundation works to fulfill its mission by funding research; providing education resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public; and furnishing supportive services for those afflicted with IBD. For more information, visit www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org, call 888-694-8872, or email info@crohnscolitisfoundation.org

Prioritizing Adolescent Immunizations

By | Partnership | No Comments

Adolescent immunization rates are lagging below national goals. Unity Consortium is dedicated to educating teens about the importance of immunization and the vaccines recommended specifically for their age group.

Most teens have a lot of their plate. There’s school, homework, extra-curricular activities, sports for many, part-time jobs for some and of course, the social scene – both in person and the virtual kind. So it’s understandable that health, and in particular, immunizations are not a priority for many teens and young adults. But with adolescent immunizations rates lagging below national goals, we need to do more to educate teens about the importance of immunization and the vaccines recommended specifically for their age group.

Unity Consortium is partnering with Outcome Health to reach teens while they are visiting doctors via information that explains the critical role teen and young adult vaccination plays in disease prevention. These materials will also reach parents and healthcare providers who play a vital role in keeping teens healthy.

A recent Unity survey conducted by Harris poll sheds light on why adolescent vaccination rates remain far too low. In short, vaccination rates may be stagnant partly because of attitudes about vaccination and missed opportunities to vaccinate.

For example, the survey found that not all parents and teens realize the value of annual check-ups and vaccination. In fact, 4 in 10 parents and nearly 6 in 10 teens believe teens should only see a doctor when he/she feels sick. This belief likely reduce opportunities for physicians to discuss preventive health measures, such as vaccination, with teenagers and their parents. Similarly, the survey showed that 1 in 4 parents and teens believe that vaccines are for babies and not as important for teens and more than one-third of teens don’t know how being vaccinated helps them. By placing vaccine information in physician waiting room and exam rooms, Unity and Outcome Health hope to increase the understanding about vaccines so that these misperceptions can be addressed. The materials may also serve as a reminder to healthcare providers to check their patients’ immunization records, since less than half of the physicians surveyed reported issuing reminders to teens and their parents about needed or missed vaccinations.

The CDC recommends that adolescents receive the following vaccines to protect their health in the short and long-term.

• Meningococcal: Two distinct meningococcal disease vaccines (ACWY and B) protect against the most common types of bacterial meningitis. While most people recover from meningitis, permanent disabilities (such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities) and even death can result from the infection. Receiving both vaccines can help ensure protection from these potentially devastating infections.

• Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis [whooping cough]) and Td Booster (tetanus and diphtheria): Recently, there have been outbreaks of whooping cough in the United States.

• HPV (human papillomavirus): The vaccine is most effective at preventing HPV-associated cancers in both men and women when given during the preteen years.

• Flu: More serious than a cold, flu impacts an infected person for up to two weeks, but can also lead to serious and even deadly complications, such as pneumonia. A flu vaccination is needed annually as the flu strains change and, while there is still a low risk of catching the flu even with the shot, patients will often experience a milder case of the flu if vaccinated.
Annual checkups should be the norm, not the exception. Other ways to help to prioritize preventive health among adolescents include:

• Parents and teens: Learn more about the safety and the benefit of recommended vaccines.

o Unity Consortium has resources available about adolescent preventive health and vaccination.
o The CDC has available information on the vaccine schedule including recommended ages and catch-up opportunities.

• Immunizers: Make sure teens don’t skip annual check-ups, especially at 11-12 and 16 years of age when routine vaccines should be given.

o Set up a reminder system to alert parents and teens to make an appointment.
o When teens are in the office for any reason, discuss the need for immunizations so that there are no lingering concerns.
o To support healthcare providers, Unity Consortium has developed a program accessible on Unity4TeenVax.org that helps improve delivery of a confident, concise, and consistent recommendation for routinely recommended vaccines to adolescents.

A coordinated effort between teens, parents, and healthcare providers can positively impact preventive health decisions and raise the priority for adolescent immunization. For more information about Unity Consortium and the importance of preventive teen health strategies and vaccination visit http://www.unity4teenvax.org/.

###

Judy Klein is President and a Founder of Unity Consortium. UNITY brings together a wide range of organizations all with a passion for improving health through a focus on adolescent and young adult preventive healthcare and immunization. Judy has held leadership positions at Merck and Procter and Gamble and is equally engaged with community organizations.  Judy has held a variety of leadership positions with Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) including on the Global and Philadelphia Boards of Directors. 

The Unity survey was supported by Pfizer Inc., a member of Unity Consortium. The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll in 2016 among 506 teens aged 13-18, 515 parents of teens, and 405 primary care physicians. For complete survey methodology, please contact Unity.

UNITY Consortium is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization that brings together diverse groups that share a common and passionate interest in health with a focus on adolescent and young adult preventive healthcare and immunization. Our members represent public and private organizations, industry, academia, healthcare providers, retailers, and advocacy groups. As one strong voice, Unity Consortium addresses the unique challenges surrounding adolescent and young adult preventive healthcare and immunization.

Minority Health Month: A Time to Fight for Every Heart

By | Partnership | No Comments

If you knew that your biggest health threat was 80 percent preventable, what would you do to stop it? Would you fight? In recognition of Minority Health Month in April, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease has teamed up with Outcome Health to educate women of color about their leading cause of death.

If you knew that your biggest health threat was 80 percent preventable, what would you do to stop it? Would you fight? Heart disease is the #1 killer of women, causing the death of 1 in 4 females, and sadly 45 percent of women are not aware of this fact. And what’s even more startling is that this number is higher for African American (64 percent) and Hispanic (66 percent) women. In recognition of Minority Health Month in April, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease has teamed up with Outcome Health to educate women of color about their leading cause of death.

Heart disease claims the lives of nearly 48,000 African American and 21,000 Hispanic women annually. Black women are disproportionality impacted by hypertension-related heart disease and congestive heart failure compared to white women. The prevalence for diabetes, which increases the risk for heart disease, is twice as high in Hispanic women as white women. With more than 46 percent of African American women having high blood pressure and nearly one-third of Hispanic women, one of the risk factors for heart disease, we’ve got to do more to educate minority populations about their risks and prevention. This is especially important in hard-to-reach communities like Native American women, who may live in rural or remote areas, and studies show that their risk factors are much higher. American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women die from heart disease at younger ages than other racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

While these numbers are alarming, there are some things that can be done to significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. Risk factors include poor diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, physical inactivity, complications during pregnancy, and family history. Some risk factors you can control—such as high blood pressure, diet, and physical activity. Others are harder because they are beyond our control, such as family history. That’s why it’s critical that women seek preventive care and stay on top of their heart health by monitoring blood pressure, pulse, BMI, and cholesterol. To help lower your personal risk factors for heart disease, women can make an effort to eat smarter and follow a heart healthy diet and exercise at least 30 minutes per day.

Controlling your risk factors and living a heart healthy life may not be enough. Many women, especially minorities, continue to struggle with misdiagnoses, access to care, and affordability. Only half of African American women know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. We need to do a better job ensuring that doctors know what to look for in women and understand how their symptoms may be different from men’s and therefore how treatment is different.

Despite these challenges, here is encouraging news: More women are learning how to take charge of their heart health and demanding that they are included in the research and science of heart disease. WomenHeart is hosting its 18th annual Wenger Awardsdinner on May 7, 2018. Named for Nanette Kass Wenger, M.D., a pioneer in women’s cardiology, this annual event recognizes individuals and organizations for their extraordinary contributions to women’s heart health. This year’s honorees include: “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Chandra Wilson (Excellence in Media Award), the Honorable Debbie Dingell (D-MI) (Excellence in Public Service), Dr. Roxana Mehran (Excellence in Medical Leadership), and Dr. Clyde Yancy (Excellence in Medical Research). This year’s theme, “Fighting for Every Heart,” signals that despite race, culture, age or socio-economic status, all women deserve equal access to quality heart health care, education, treatment, and prevention.

WomenHeart will continue fighting for every heart until we eradicate heart disease in women. We will continue fighting for every heart until all women have the same access as men to accurate cardiac diagnostic testing and proper treatment. We will continue fighting for every heart until all women have the tools and resources to advocate for themselves and take charge of their heart health. We urge you to join us and fight for every heart.

###

Mary McGowan is the CEO of WomenHeart, the nation’s first and still only patient centered organization serving the 48 million American women living with or at risk for heart disease. WomenHeart is solely devoted to advancing women’s heart health through advocacy, community education, and the nation’s only patient support network for women living with heart disease. WomenHeart is both a coalition and a community of thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, physicians, and health advocates, all committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. To learn more or to donate, visit www.womenheart.org.

National Diabetes Alert Day – March 27, 2018

By | Educational | No Comments

Patrick with his wife, Sara, and daughter, Charlotte.

The United States has the highest prevalence of diabetes among developed nations. As of 2015, 30.3 million Americans (9.4% of the population) had diabetes. Of those living with the disease, 7.2 million were undiagnosed.

Rather than continue to bombard you with facts and figures, Outcome Health is using this year’s National Diabetes Alert day to put a name and a face behind this highly diagnosed disease and its impact on one’s life. Meet Patrick Cummings, Vice President of Technology Experience, who has taken the time to share a bit about his journey with diabetes.

How old were you when you were diagnosed? 
I was 33 when I was diagnosed as a Type 1.

Do you have a family history of diabetes? 
My father is a Type 1. He was diagnosed at 32, I was diagnosed at 33. Less than 10% of Type 1’s are diagnosed in their 30s.

What was your initial understanding of diabetes when you learned you had it? 
I had grown up watching my father manage his diabetes, so when I was diagnosed I was somewhat prepared and understood what I had to do. I was on a cruise ship for my honeymoon in diabetic shock. I knew something was wrong when I lost 7 pounds while on a cruise.

What has your treatment been over the years? 
I inject both long acting and short acting insulin. Recently, I’ve made the decision to move to an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor and will begin wearing the pump in the next few weeks once I complete my training on the pump.

How do you manage your diabetes on a daily basis?
I test my blood sugar in the morning, before each meal, and before bed. I take a short acting bolus before each meal, and a long acting bolus each evening, and any corrections that might be needed.

How much of a financial burden is your treatment ? 
When I was first diagnosed, I had just switched employers, and my insurance had not started. Cobra had not kicked in yet and my new insurance would not start for 2 weeks. I had to cover almost $2000 that first night. It makes you realize the importance of healthcare.

Do you have any fears about diabetic complications in the future? 
With the advancements in treatment over the past decade, I’m excited for what the future will bring. Each month you read about new technologies and methods for making diabetes something you can control. My new pump has an auto mode, where it moderates my insulin for me. I’m excited for the advancement of technology where oneday we will have a true artificial pancreas.

What’s one thing you want other people to know about diabetes? 
Having diabetes is a long term project you need to manage. You need to take each day at a time, learn to understand your body, and understand that each day is one step closer towards progress.

The following are signs and symptoms of diabetes:
– Urinating often
– Feeling very thirsty
– Feeling very hungry – even though you’re eating
– Extreme fatigue
– Blurry vision
– Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
– Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
– Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

To lower your risk of developing diabetes, follow these guidelines:
– Maintain a healthy weight
– Be physically active
– Manage blood pressure
– Understand your family history
– Quit smoking

And as always, seek the advice and guidance of your healthcare professional.

Half of Americans Have High Blood Pressure According to New Guidelines

By | Partnership | No Comments

Updated blood pressure guidelines by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association reveal that nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure.

A study by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association examined how new blood pressure guidelines impact treatment recommendations for U.S. adults. These updated guidelines reveal that nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure, yet not all require blood pressure-lowering medication.

Previous guidelines defined high blood pressure as readings of 140/90 mmHg or higher, with 32% of participants falling into this range. By dropping the high blood pressure definition to 130/80 mmHg or above, nearly half (46%) of U.S. adults now have hypertension.

Fortunately, not all 46% of adults will require medication to lower their blood pressure. It’s estimated that the number of adults needing medication will increase by only 2% because medication is recommended for patients only with high cardiovascular risk or those with stage 2 hypertension.

Click here to read the full article posted by CardioSmart.org

 

Outcome Health Leverages Platform to Stop Spread of Flu

By | Partnership | No Comments

Recent numbers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that this year’s flu season ranks among the worst in nearly a decade. As of Feb 3, influenza activity has spread to every state. In that week alone, 10 children died from flu-related illnesses, bringing this season’s total to 63.

Lena H. Sun from the Washington Post has done extensive reporting on this year’s epidemic. Health officials confirmed that this year’s flu season started early and that there’s been an increase in the number of people visiting their doctors or health-care providers for flu-like symptoms. Therefore, point of care is a powerful place for patients to learn about flu prevention as they ride out the rest of this season. Outcome Health is using its health-education platform to deploy information to its nationwide provider-network of 42,000 offices in an effort to educate patients on the best ways to prevent the spread of flu. This campaign will run from February 1st through March 31st.

Protect Yourself from the Flu! from Outcome Health on Vimeo.

For the most up to date influenza reports, visit the CDC’s Fluview.