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Karen Miller

Stories by Karen

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Flu season is here

Fall brings the foliage … and the flu

The 2016-2017 flu season is upon us. There’s no escaping that pesky virus. Like clockwork, it makes its appearance every fall. Generally, flu season starts in October and peaks between December and March, but can last as long as May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Avocados: Not just guacamole

Now considered a power food

Avocados are considered a power food because of its high nutritional value. Each contains nearly 20 minerals and vitamins that the body needs to perform sufficiently.

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Blacks closing the gap in life expectancy

Living longer and healthier

Life expectancy in blacks has increased over the years largely due to lower death rates in cancer, heart disease and HIV. In addition, access to medical care has improved with the advent and expansion of Medicaid.

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Exercise and high cholesterol

The first line of attack

Regular exercise can not only prevent high cholesterol, it can often lower it. Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day for five days a week is recommended.

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South of the border beans and rice

A healthy vegetarian entree

This recipe from the American Institute for Cancer Research is a good source of fiber, protein and potassium. It contains no saturated fat and is low in sodium.

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Buttons and bows pasta

This recipe from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides healthy nutrients but is low in fats, cholesterol and sodium. Each serving contains only 329 calories.

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Prevention of high cholesterol

It’s possible to eat your way to good health

Many cases of high cholesterol can be prevented just by following a healthy lifestyle. If the cholesterol is too high or it does not respond to healthy lifestyle alone, medication — in conjunction with behavioral changes — is warranted. Key words: high cholesterol, smoking, obesity healthy eating, exercise, DASH eating plan, Mediterranean diet

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Metabolic syndrome

A combination of disorders

Metabolic syndrome occurs if three or more medical conditions coexist at the same time. The conditions are high blood pressure, high triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, low HDL and large waist.

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Peripheral arterial disease

Common, but often undetected

Peripheral arterial disease, or PAD, is a common, but often undetected, condition that can result from excessive buildup of plaque in the arteries, particularly in the legs.

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Stress and heart disease

A possible link to high cholesterol

Melissa Blount, 46, put her treatment for high cholesterol on hold. She was trying to have another child, but her efforts several years ago almost cost her her life.

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Heart attack and stroke

Major complications from cholesterol

Heart attack and stroke are two of the most common complications from high cholesterol. In both conditions, cholesterol in the arteries blocks energy and nutrients to the organs.

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High cholesterol: Common and silent

Cholesterol not really a villain

Although cholesterol has a bad reputation, it is actually essential to the body and a part of every cell. If it accumulates in the arteries, however, it can block access to energy and nutrients the organs need to survive.

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Screening tests for cholesterol

It is recommended that screening for cholesterol begin at age 20 and be repeated every three to five years. Those of higher risk, such as those with diabetes, heart disease, stroke or a family history of high cholesterol, may get screened more frequently.

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Healthy lifestyles not high on most people’s list

Fewer than 3 percent adhere to recommendations

Only 2.7 percent of adults in the U.S. follow the four behaviors of a healthy lifestyle. While not smoking is the most common behavior observed, maintaining a healthy weight is the least.

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How old is your heart?

Your heart might be older than you

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asks a strange question on their website — “how old is your heart”? That doesn’t seem to make much sense. Surely if you’re 40, your heart is 40 as well. But, according to the CDC, that’s not always the case.

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Universal screening recommended for depression

An update by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. Yet, it often goes undiagnosed or untreated. It is a leading cause of suicide.

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A step closer to ovarian cancer screening

More studies are necessary - Special advertorial health section

Although ovarian cancer is rare, it is the fifth deadliest form of cancer in women. To date, a reliable screening test for ovarian cancer has not been developed.

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Glaucoma: The silent thief of sight

Many people lack awareness

Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of blindness in this country. There is no cure for glaucoma, but it can be treated with medicine and surgery.

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The flu: Will antibiotics work?

The difference between bacteria and viruses

Antibiotics are often prescribed for people suffering from the flu. However, antibiotics are designed to treat infections from bacteria. The flu, on the other hand, is a virus and does not respond to antibiotics.

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January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month

Cervical cancer largely preventable

With the advent of Pap smears and immunization against certain types of HPV, the incidence of cervical cancer in this country has plummeted in the past 50 years.

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Diabetes and Cancer

An unexpected link

Current data indicate that the incidence of diabetes may be on the decline. Since research suggests that there is a link between type 2 diabetes and several types of cancer, a drop in diabetes rates may result in lower cancer rates.

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The Food and Drug Administration: Attack on added sugars

Limit to 12½ teaspoons a day

The Food and Drug Administration is at it again. Now the target is sugar, but it’s not just any sugar. It’s the added sugar the administration is going after.

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Exercise and high blood pressure

An alternative method to keep your pressure low

Regular exercise can increase the efficiency of the heart, which can help prevent or control high blood pressure.

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Edamame stew

This recipe is high in potassium and fiber and low in unhealthy fats and sodium. This combination will help lower blood pressure and decrease its risk.

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Quinoa-stuffed tomatoes

This side dish pairs quinoa, a whole grain, with vegetables for a healthy recipe that is low in unhealthy fats, sodium and calories and high in fiber, protein and potassium

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Kidney failure: A silent complication

Dialysis and transplant the only treatments

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of kidney failure. Once diagnosed, the only treatments available are dialysis and kidney transplant.

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Heart failure: A weakened and enlarged heart

An inefficient pump

Heart failure, one of the leading causes of death, is often caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure. Because of increased resistance, the heart has to pump harder in order to supply blood to the body.

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Home monitoring of HBP

Frequent checks help keep tabs on blood pressure

Home monitoring of blood pressure is particularly beneficial for those with hypertension and those with several risks for the disorder. It is important to buy an approved monitor and to use it correctly.

Keep high blood pressure at bay

Many cases are preventable

Some cases of high blood pressure are difficult to avoid. It may run in families or a medical condition precipitates it. For everyone the risk of hypertension increases with every tick of the clock. But too many times our behavior brings it on. Here are risk factors that are in our court. Fortunately, we can have some control.

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Pass the salt, please

Americans consume more than twice the quantity recommended

According to the American Heart Association, consumers eat more than twice the recommended daily limit. Salt, or sodium, is available in many foods we purchase or eat in restaurants.

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The 10 greatest sources of sodium

More than chips and snacks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that more than 40 percent of the sodium people regularly consume comes from 10 types of foods.

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The hidden meaning of nutrition labels

Sodium content is not always clear

Nutrition labels indicate the amount of sodium in each serving. For foods with limited sodium content, however, the labeling is less clear and not well understood.

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Over-the-counter medications and HBP

Although over-the-counter drugs are readily available to consumers, those with high blood pressure need to be careful in their choice. Some OTC drugs can increase their pressure or make their medication less effective.

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High blood pressure

A silent and dangerous killer

Although high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the most common chronic conditions in this country, roughly half of those afflicted do not follow their prescribed medication regimen.

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Complications of high blood pressure

Years of uncontrolled blood pressure can cause life-threatening disorders. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of stroke and heart disease.

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Risk factors of high blood pressure

A risk factor increases the risk of a particular disease or condition. Having a particular risk factor, however, does not mean that you will get that disease.

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More women may be eligible for breast-conserving surgery

Size of tumor not always key

Some cases of breast cancer can be treated by lumpectomy, a breast-conserving surgery. A recent study has found that more women than previously thought could be eligible for lumpectomy.

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New guidelines for breast cancer screening

Which ones should you follow?

The American Cancer Society recently updated its screening guidelines for breast cancer. The ACS now recommends that women of average risk of breast cancer initiate screening at 45 rather than 40.

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Pomegranates: The “seeded apples”

Antioxidants make them a superfood

Pomegranates, known for their bright color and odd shape, are available only during the fall to early winter. Because of their high content of antioxidants, pomegranates have gained a reputation as a superfood.

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Exercise for mental health

Good for the body; good for the mind

It is well established that exercise improves health and can lower the risk of several chronic illnesses. Exercise can also prevent or help control depression.

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Yoga: Take a deep breath

Inner peace may improve mental health

Yoga is an ancient discipline that combines meditation with certain positions called asanas. Yoga has been found to improve physical health, and studies now suggest that it can improve mental health as well.

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Anxiety: When worry or panic takes over

More than ‘fight or flight’

Anxiety is the most common type of mental health disorder. It is most often characterized by panic attacks, phobias or generalized anxiety disorder.

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Bipolar disorder

Not the normal ups and downs

People with bipolar disorder have mood swings that shift from depression to mania or hypomania.

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Major depressive disorder

You don’t just ‘snap out of it’

Depression is one of the most harmful mental health disorders.

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Mental Illness

Very common but often goes untreated

Mental illness is one of the most common health disorders. Yet, a large percentage of those afflicted do not get treated.

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Mental health providers

More than just psychiatrists

Although psychiatrists are doctors trained in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders, there are several other types of professionals that treat people with mental disorders.

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Stigma of mental health: The sound of silence

An obstacle to seeking care

A high percentage of people with mental health disorders often refrain from seeking care due to the stigma of mental health.

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The facts behind processed meats

What are they, anyway?

Processed meats are red meats and poultry that are preserved by smoking, curing, salting or addition of any chemical preservatives.

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Insurance coverage increases the likelihood of getting preventive services

Screenings can find illnesses earlier when they are easier to treat

Screening tests can often find a disease before symptoms occur. The Affordable Care Act mandates that several screening tests be performed at no cost to the insured individual.

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August is National Immunization Awareness Month

Adults are not exempt

Immunizations are required for people of any age. Some conditions require one dose only while others are recommended yearly.

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