5 Steps to Preventing or Slowing Osteoporosis

Many people consider osteoporosis to be a normal, unavoidable part of aging. But it is preventable, and the steps you take now – no matter how old you are – can help improve your bone health for the rest of your life.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 9 million Americans have osteoporosis and another 43 million have low bone density, placing them at higher risk for the disease. This means that 60% of adults age 50 and older are at risk of breaking a bone. While it is most common with women, the disease also affects me and certain diseases and medications can increase your risk.

Osteoporosis Prevention Tips

Be sunscreen savvy: Keep your skin safe in the water

SunscreenAccording to the Environmental Protection Agency, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the country, with more than 1 million people diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Research shows that an estimated 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

With Memorial Day weekend here, many backyard and neighborhood pools are opening for the season, and it will be essential to protect your skin with a good sunscreen. But buying sunscreen can seem way too complicated when you are standing in front of an aisle of bottles. Lotion or spray? 15 or 50? What is water-resistant?

In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced new requirements for over-the-counter sunscreens as part of its ongoing efforts to ensure sunscreens meet modern-day standards for safety and effectiveness. Part of the new standards prevent manufacturers from claiming that sunscreens are “waterproof” since all sunscreens eventually wash off in water. Instead, sunscreens recommended for water exposure are to be labeled as “water-resistant” (maintaining their SPF after 40 minutes in the water) or “very water-resistant” (maintaining their SPF for 80 minutes in the water).

Some things to remember:

  • Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or greater.
  • Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out into the sun. Apply it generously and thoroughly.
  • Reapply sunscreen when you get out of the water and after being in the water beyond the exposure times listed on the bottle. If you aren’t swimming, remember to reapply every two hours or after sweating a lot.
  • Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.

What is an embolism? 4 Things that you should know.

EmbolismYou may have heard warnings about embolisms or known friends or family members who have suffered an embolism only to wonder: what exactly IS an embolism and can I prevent it from happening to me?

According to the National Blood Clot Alliance, statistics indicate there are approximately 900,000 cases each year, and on average, 274 people die each day from blood clots. Of these cases, 70 percent are tied to a known risk factor. It’s important to learn about embolism because it can happen to anyone, but in many cases, it’s preventable or treatable if caught early.

1. Embolism, explained:

An embolism is a medical term used to describe a condition in which something is blocking blood flow to a vessel of the body. This blockage is caused by a blood clot or a piece of plaque that acts like a clot, called an “embolus” (or “emboli” if there is more than one). The embolus forms in one part of the body, circulates, and then blocks blood flow in another part of the body.

An embolism differs from thrombosis in that thrombosis is caused by a clot that is formed in one area of the body and remains there, without being carried throughout the bloodstream.

There are many different kinds of embolism, but generally, an embolism in an artery to the heart can cause a heart attack (coronary), and an embolism in an artery in the brain (cerebral) can cause a stroke. The most common type is a pulmonary embolism, which blocks an artery to the lungs

2. Know your risk:

The primary cause of most pulmonary embolism is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition in which the veins of the legs develop clots. When these clots break loose and travel through the bloodstream to the lung, they can block blood flow and oxygen, potentially causing permanent damage or even death.

An embolism is more likely to occur in people who have remained in one position for a long time, such as during a long plane ride or car trip, or those who are on bed rest after illness or surgery.

Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Atherosclerosis (buildup of fatty plaque in the blood vessels)
  • High cholesterol
  • Atrial fibrillation, a type of abnormal heart rhythm
  • A family history of blood clots
  • The use of hormone replacement therapy and birth control methods that contain estrogen
  • Conditions that increase blood clotting (such as a very high platelet count)
  • Mitral stenosis (particularly dangerous to the brain)
  • Endocarditis (infection of the inside of the heart)

3. Recognize the signs & symptoms

An embolism can occur suddenly, and symptoms can be barely noticeable. Symptoms of an embolism usually appear in the affected area and may include: pain, tenderness, numbness, tingling, swelling, redness, muscle spasms/twitches or paralysis. Contact your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms.

Signs of a pulmonary embolism can include: sudden difficulty breathing; rapid heartbeat; chest pain, which usually worsens with a deep breath or coughing; anxiety; coughing up blood; or very low blood pressure, lightheadedness or fainting. Call 911 or seek emergency treatment immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

4. Prevention

The goal of treatment is to break up clots and help keep other clots from forming, usually accomplished through medication. The best ways to reduce your risk of embolism is to:

  • Get regular exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke

Tips to keep you safe when biking

Bike Safety TipsRiding a bicycle is great exercise, but before you hit the road remember the following safety tips:

  • Inspect your bike before starting. Make sure your bike is functioning properly. It’s important to check that all parts are in working order, that the tire pressure is normal, and that the chain, brakes and lights all work properly.
  • Use your head. Wear a helmet. Follow this simple rule and you can reduce your risk of serious injury by as much as 85 percent. Choose a helmet that meets the standards of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Or, look for a sticker from the Snell Memorial Foundation or the American Society of Testing and Materials.
  • Keep your eyes on the road. Resist the urge to put your head down when you’re going hard or getting tired. You need to see what is coming up so you have time to react and maneuver. Keeping your head down also slows your oxygen intake, tiring you out faster.
  • Ride with traffic. Never ride against traffic, obey all street signs and give the right of way to cars, pedestrians and other cyclists. Use hand signals to alert drivers of your intentions. Utilize marked bike lanes when they’re available. Find a Kentucky Bicycle Routes Near You!
  • Listen up. Don’t wear headphones. They can block out street sounds that would otherwise alert you to impending danger. Stay off your cell phone, too.
  • Be bright in low-light. Avoid riding at night if possible. Most cycling deaths occur between 4 p.m. and midnight. If you expect to cycle in low-light conditions or at night, wear fluorescent or reflective gear. Equip your bike with a white headlight and a red taillight, as well as with front and rear reflectors.
  • Put the pedal down. To corner safely, stop pedaling as you approach a turn. Put your outside pedal down (that’s the right pedal if you’re turning left). This assures that your inside pedal is up and out of harm’s way. It also lowers your center of gravity so you can take a turn safely.

Make Memorial Day Weekend a Safe One

Memorial Day Grilling Safety Memorial Day weekend is considered the unofficial start of summer. Whether you’re traveling or enjoying a backyard cookout, here are some tips for a safe and healthy holiday weekend:

  • Food safety: It’s always important to thoroughly cook foods, especially when you’re grilling ground beef, poultry or pork. Make sure you refrigerate perishable foods within two hours. And don’t forget to always wash your hands with soap and water before handling food and after touching raw meat.
  • Grill safety: Clean your grill before using. Check the tubes leading into the burner for any blockages. Do not use a grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch or near any surface that can catch fire. Keep children and pets away from the grill area by declaring a 3-foot “kid-free” safety zone around your grill.
  • Water safety: To prevent drowning, avoid alcohol when swimming or boating. Wear a life jacket, approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, whenever you are on a boat. Make sure young children are supervised at all times when near water, even if they know how to swim. Learn CPR in case of an emergency. Find an American Red Cross CPR Class in Your Area.
  • Sun safety: Protect against sunburn and heat stroke. Wear sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 or higher and apply it generously throughout the day. Avoid lengthy sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wear a hat outdoors and a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes. Drink plenty of water, especially when in the sun or if you are sweating heavily. If you feel faint or nauseous, get into a cool place immediately.
  • Travel safety: Do not drink and drive or travel with anyone who has been drinking. Do not text or use your cell phone while driving. Wear your seatbelt at all times. Make sure your vehicle has been properly serviced and is in good working shape before a long road trip.

Salad Toppings to Skip

Salad Toppings to SkipSalads have a great reputation as a healthy, diet-friendly food. But, if you aren’t careful, that innocent salad you have at lunch could pack more calories than a burger and fries. Kentucky Has the Fifth Highest Adult Obesity Rate in the U.S.

You should skip (or limit) the following ingredients, which can add plenty of extra calories to a salad:

  1. Creamy dressings. Skip creamy salad dressings such as ranch, blue cheese and Caesar. Instead, switch to lighter vinaigrettes. You should also use this old dieting trick: Dip the tip of your fork into the dressing before you put it in the salad to get just enough taste with each bite without drowning it in dressing.
  2. Bacon bits. Bacon bits are filled with fat and sodium. Instead, try adding sunflower seeds to your salad for a salty crunch.
  3. Cheese. Cheese is a nutritious food that adds flavor, calcium and protein to a salad. However, when some people add cheese to a salad, they really pile it on – that’s why it’s on this list. Just a half-cup of cheddar cheese contains 18 grams of fat and 225 calories. If you must add cheese to your salad, do so in moderation due to its high fat content. Choose low-fat varieties to save on saturated fat and calories.
  4. Deli meats. Avoid adding ham, salami and other cured meats to your salad. They are high in fat and sodium. For a healthier protein option, add grilled chicken (yes, grilled not fried), roasted turkey or cooked beans.
  5. Tortilla chips and strips. Common in Southwestern-style salads, tortilla chips and strips are crunchy and delicious, but they are also high in fat and calories. Avoid adding crunchy tortilla strips to your salad. You should also avoid salads served in a fried tortilla bowl.
  6. Croutons. Croutons add crunch to a salad, but the added fat and refined carbohydrates make them an unhealthy option. Eat a whole wheat bread roll with your salad instead. Baptist Health Weight Loss Services.

Find the Right Fitness Tracker for You

Fitness-TrackerThinking about buying a fitness tracker? With so many wearable tech options available, you may be wondering which one to choose. Here are some tips to help you make the right decision:

  • Set a spending limit. In general, the best activity trackers cost between $50 and $300. More expensive trackers usually include built-in heart rate monitors and GPS (features tailored for athletes and exercise enthusiasts). Don’t buy a tracker with a heart rate monitor if your primary activity is walking; it’s an unnecessary expense. If you walk and don’t do much else, choose a simple and less expensive model.
  • Determine how you will wear it. Activity trackers are usually bracelets, watches or clip-ons. Bracelets and watches are hard to lose. Clip-ons can fall off or get thrown into the wash. However, if you don’t want something on your wrist 24/7, you’re probably better off with a clip-on. Choose a tracker that you are comfortable with, so that you will leave it on all day.
  • Check out the app. Most fitness trackers have a companion app that holds all your synced data, and some additional features. Make sure your tracker’s app tracks everything you want and that it is provided in an easy-to-understand format. Check Apple’s App store and the Google Play store for screenshots and reviews.
  • Consider other factors. Make sure your fitness tracker is compatible with your computer or mobile device and that it can connect easily. If you’re going to be swimming laps in a pool, choose one that is waterproof. Also, check the battery life. Some fitness bands are more energy efficient than others and can be used for longer without having to charge up or replace the batteries.

Keep Your Blood Pressure in Check: Avoid the ‘Silent Killer’

High-Blood-PressureWhether navigating rush-hour traffic, negotiating with a stubborn toddler or nearing a deadline at work, we’ve all remarked that stressful situations are enough to send our blood pressure soaring. However, while physicians believe that stress does play a part in our overall health, it has not been proven to cause high blood pressure. The truth is, the only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly.

According to the American Heart Association, most people don’t notice any signs or symptoms of high blood pressure, also called hypertension, until blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels. For this reason, it is often called the “silent killer.” Affecting approximately 1 in 3 adults in the U.S., it occurs when your blood pressure — the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries — stays high for a long time instead of rising and falling throughout the day. Because high blood pressure increases your risk for stroke and heart disease, two of the leading causes of death in the U.S., it is important to keep it checked and follow your doctor’s advice if you need treatment.

Some people believe that headaches, symptomatic nosebleeds, facial flushing or dizziness are signs that a person has high blood pressure. However, while these symptoms can be indirectly related, they are not always caused by high blood pressure. Obvious symptoms typically occur only when blood pressure levels are high enough to cause hypertensive crisis, which requires emergency treatment.

High blood pressure can be a serious condition; however, you can take steps to control it by doing the following:

  • Get your blood pressure checked regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Be physically active
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Don’t smoke
  • Prevent or manage diabetes
  • Follow your doctor’s plan for treatment

Find your risk for stroke or heart attack by taking a health risk assessment at www.FindYourHealth.com

6 Tips for Better Sleep

Losing sleepNot getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night? Here are six common sleep saboteurs and simple solutions to snooze more soundly:

  1. Using electronic devices. The blue light given off by computers, smart phones, tablets and even your TV prevents the production of melatonin, which helps your body become sleepy. Put away all devices and turn off your TV at least one hour before bedtime.
  2. Smoking. Many people smoke to relax, but nicotine is a stimulant and can keep you awake, especially if you light up close to your bedtime. Talk to your doctor about quitting.
  3. Drinking too much water. You know that caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your sleep. But drinking too much water or other liquids before bed can also keep you up – going to the bathroom. Stay hydrated during the day, but cut down on drinking water or liquids two hours before bed.
  4. Sharing your bed with a pet. Your pet’s movements during the night can prevent you from getting the deep sleep you desire. They can also bring fleas, fur, dander and pollen to your bed, triggering sleep-wrecking allergies. Keep your furry friends on the floor or in their own beds.
  5. Sleeping under sheets with a high-thread count. The higher the thread count of your sheets, the more tightly weaved the threads are. When threads have a tight weave, air flows less freely through them. As a result, heat is trapped and you can wake up sweating. Choose sheets with a thread count of 300 or less. Also, keep your bedroom temperature between 65 and 72 degrees.
  6. Sleeping In on weekends. It’s nice to be able to get a few extra z’s when you don’t have to get up for work, but those extra hours spent snoozing can disrupt your body clock when it’s time to resume your normal schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – including weekends.

Mother’s Day Health & Fitness Gifts

Mother's Day GiftsMother’s Day is Sunday! Here are some great gift ideas that not only make moms feel good, they’re good for them, too.

  • Gift basket. Instead of candy or flowers, give your mom a personalized gift basket to help get or keep her healthy. Include items such as exercise bands, a jump rope, hand weights or a healthy cookbook.
  • Gym passes. Most moms are so busy taking care of their families that they forget to make time to take care of themselves. If your mom is a fan of spinning or wants to give yoga a try, set her up for a few classes at your local gym. Most facilities offer gift certificates or class passes that you can purchase for mom to try at her leisure. Better yet, go to a class with her!
  • Spa day. Spa days can be very helpful in reducing stress and relaxing – something all Moms need. Depending on your budget, include a massage, facial, manicure and/or pedicure. Or make your mom a spa kit. Include items such as bath soaps, salts or a cozy robe.
  • New sneakers. Want to motivate your mom to exercise and create opportunities to share time together? Give her a new pair of sneakers. Invite her to take a walk with you each week. This is a great way to spend time together and talk, and the new sneakers are a perfect way to help her ease into a fitness journey.
  • Technology. Today’s technology provides numerous options to keep your mom healthy. How about a fitness band, pedometer or a heart rate monitor to keep stats on her workout, calories burned or distances covered? Or stick with something simple. Give her an iTunes gift card so she can download some workout music or a fitness app.
  • Jogging stroller. Did your wife just have a baby this year? Get her a jogging stroller for young children to ride around in while she power walks or runs. There are versions of these jogging strollers that can be attached to a bicycle, too.