Adults Should be Monitoring Their Blood Pressure at Home

July 10th, 2019

Blood pressure cuffA new study by the American Heart Association says adults should monitor blood pressure at home, in addition to being checked at the doctor’s office.

Your Real Blood Pressure

Nearly 93 percent of adults in the United States who have high blood pressure when measured in their doctor’s office and don’t take blood pressure medicine, meet the criteria for “white coat hypertension.” This is because their blood pressure is in an acceptable range when re-measured outside a medical setting. Meanwhile, about a third of adults in the U.S. experience “masked hypertension” because their blood pressure levels measured outside of the doctor’s office are more problematic than measurements at the doctor’s office. 

The study used the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association guidelines to determine that as many as 104 million Americans should use a blood pressure machine at home to provide backup for, or contrast with, the results from their visit to the doctor’s office. 

The study concedes there are barriers to widespread blood pressure monitoring at home: patient compliance, accuracy of the results, out-of-pocket costs of the device, and the time needed to instruct patients on how to take their blood pressure.

The study was published in the American Heart Association journal “Hypertension.”

Home Monitoring

People are considered to have high blood pressure if their systolic (top number) is 130 or higher and their diastolic (bottom number) is 80 or higher.

There are certain factors that can cause blood pressure to temporarily rise. Blood pressure normally rises as a result of:

  • Caffeine
  • Certain medicines
  • Cold temperatures
  • Exercise 
  • Smoking
  • Stress

Try to avoid as many of these factors as you can when taking your blood pressure. Before checking your blood pressure:

  1. Find a quiet place to check your blood pressure.
  2. Make sure that you are comfortable and relaxed with a recently emptied bladder (a full bladder may affect your reading).
  3. Roll up the sleeve of your arm or remove any tight sleeve clothing.
  4. Rest in a chair next to a table for five to 10 minutes. Your arm should rest comfortably at heart level. Sit up straight with your back against the chair, legs uncrossed. Rest your forearm on the table with the palm of your hand facing up.

It is important to measure at the same time every day.

What IAA has to Say

Monitoring your blood pressure at home or the doctor’s office is an important factor in leading a healthy life. Insurance Administrator of America knows you can keep your numbers within a heart healthy range! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Cosmetics are Sending Children to the ER

June 27th, 2019

Young children are being rushed to the emergency room because they’re ingesting their parents’ cosmetic products.

Cosmetics Poison Children

More than 64,000 kids in the United States younger than five years old had a cosmetic-related injury between 2002 and 2015, according to a study published on June 17 in the journal, “Clinical Pediatrics.”

Researchers looked at the type of product, route of exposure, location of the injury and other factors in children younger than five who were treated in United States emergency departments.

The authors defined cosmetic products as those that “cleanse, beautify, promote attractiveness, or alter appearance.” These include:

  • Deodorants
  • Hair relaxers
  • Makeup
  • Moisturizers
  • Nail polish
  • Skin oils

The products were categorized into five groups, based on how they’re used: nail care, skin care, fragrance, and other, which included deodorants and makeup. 

The most common injuries came from nail care products (28.3%), followed by hair care products (27%), skin care products (25%), and fragrance (12.7%).

The study noted that from 1999 through 2015, cosmetics were the cause of seven deaths among children, according to the National Poison Data System.

The study also found that younger children had a higher risk for injury and hospitalization with the average rate of injury in children less than two years old being two times higher than children between the ages of two and four.

The findings came from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a database operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that reports on injuries and poisonings involving consumer products.  The data came from about 100 U.S. hospitals, including eight children’s hospitals.

Stages of childhood development could account for these injury risks, the study’s authors wrote. By six months of age, many kids can crawl and grab things to put into their mouths. They can pull themselves upright and walk by the time they’re a year old, which allows them to close doors and reach across counters.

The study had limitations, including the fact that the data came only from U.S. emergency departments and didn’t include cases that were treated at home, urgent cares or pediatric offices.

Keep Your Children Safe

Unintentional injury is one of the top killers of children in the U.S. Prevention can eliminate almost all of these injuries. Take proper safety measures and childproofing steps to keep your family safe at home:

  • Install safety latches on cabinets and drawers to keep children from potentially poisonous household products
  • Keep potential food and potential poison separate; store them in different cabinets. Children can mistake the identity of products that look alike to them.
  • Make sure medication is in child-resistant containers
  • Return all products to storage immediately after use. Keep the products and your children in sight during use.
  • Safely discard into sealed, outdoor trash receptacle
  • Store medicines and other products in their original containers
  • Use doorknob covers to keep children away from rooms and other areas with hazards

The signs of poisoning in children are:

  • Cramps
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Dizziness
  • Foaming or burning of the mouth
  • Nausea
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting

Each year on average, doctors in ERs across the country treat about 4,300 young children with cosmetic related injuries. Don’t let your child become a statistic.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to remember that safety is key. Keep your makeup and other cosmetics in a place your children cannot access. IAA knows you want to keep your children safe.

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Chicken or Cow? New Study Suggests Both Contain Same Level of Saturated Fat

June 19th, 2019

Chicken and cow next to each otherA new study finds that white meat may be just as bad as red meat when it comes to cholesterol.

New Study

Both red and white meat contain saturated fats, which increase levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases a person’s risk of heart attacks, strokes and peripheral artery disease. 

The study from the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) found that people who ate white meat diets consisting of chicken and turkey ended up with cholesterol levels that were no different from those who ate red meat diets consisting of lean beef or pork. Both diets caused significant jumps in cholesterol compared to people whose diets consisted of plant-based proteins.

The small study involved 113 adults who were separated into a high or low saturated fat diet plan. All participants tried a red meat, white meat and plant based protein diet for one month each, with the order in which they ate these diets decided at random. In between the monthly diets, participants were able to eat their normal diet for a few weeks. Cholesterol levels were checked before and after each test.

Both the red and the white meat likely raised the participants’ cholesterol levels higher than the plant-based diet because they contain different kinds of fat.

The study authors said this is the first study to show that both kinds of meat, red and white, cause cholesterol levels to go higher than plant based protein sources. 

The key take away from the study according to nutritionists, is to watch out for saturated fat, no matter the protein source.

The research was published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”

Lower Your Saturated Fat Intake

The American Heart Association recommends aiming for a dietary pattern that achieves five to six percent of calories from saturated fat.

Saturated fats are simply fat molecules that have no double bonds between carbon molecules because they are saturated with hydrogen molecules.

Saturated fats occur naturally in many foods. The majority come from animal sources, including meat and dairy products. Additionally, many baked goods and fried foods can contain high levels of saturated fats. 

To get the nutrients you need, eat a dietary pattern that emphasizes:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Poultry, fish and nuts
  • Whole grains

You should replace foods high in saturated fats with foods high in monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fats. This means eating foods with liquid vegetable oil and also fish and nuts.

What IAA has to Say

It is important for everyone’s health to strive for a well-balanced diet. Insurance Administrator of America wants you to have a dinner plate filled with protein and veggies! IAA is here to remind you that a plate full of color means getting the nutrients you need.

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June is Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month

June 12th, 2019

Myasthenia gravis awareness buttonMyasthenia gravis is characterized by weakness and rapid fatigue of any of the muscles under your voluntary control. Take the time to learn more about this little known disease in support of Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month.

What is Myasthenia Gravis?

Myasthenia gravis is considered to be an autoimmune disorder. In an autoimmune disease, some of the body’s antibodies (special proteins in your body that are supposed to be programmed to fight foreign invaders such as bacteria, virus or fungi) mistake part of your own body as foreign, resulting in its destruction.

Muscle weakness caused by myasthenia gravis worsens as the affected muscle is used. Symptoms tend to progress over time, usually reaching their worst within a few years after the onset of the disease.

Although myasthenia gravis can affect any of the muscles that you control voluntarily, certain muscle groups are more commonly affected than others:

  • Eye muscles: In more than half the people who develop myasthenia gravis, their first signs of any symptoms involve eye problems such as eye drooping and double vision.
  • Face and throat muscles: In about 15 percent of people with myasthenia gravis, the first symptoms involve face and throat muscles which can:

o   Affect chewing: The muscles used for chewing might wear out halfway through a meal.

o   Cause difficulty swallowing: You might choke easily.

o   Impair speaking: Your speech may sound soft or nasal, depending on which muscles have been affected.

  • Neck and limb muscles: Myasthenia gravis can also cause weakness in your neck, arms and legs.

Though this disease can affect people of any age, it’s more common in women younger than 40 and in men older than 60.

What are the Causes of Myasthenia Gravis?

Myasthenia gravis is caused by the breakdown in the normal communication between nerves and muscles. This breakdown can be caused by:

  1. Antibodies: Your nerves communicate with your muscles by releasing chemicals that fit precisely into receptor sites on the muscle’s cells at the nerve-muscular junction. In myasthenia gravis, your immune system produces antibodies that block or destroy many of your muscle’s receptor sites for a chemical acetylcholine. With fewer receptor sites, your muscles receive fewer nerve signals.
  2. Thymus gland: The thymus gland is a part of your immune system, situated in the upper chest beneath your breastbone.  Researchers believe the thymus gland maintains the production of antibodies that block acetylcholine. Large in infancy, the thymus gland is small in healthy adults. In some adults with myasthenia gravis, this gland is abnormally large.
  3. Other causes: Some people have myasthenia gravis that isn’t caused by antibodies blocking acetylcholine. This type of myasthenia gravis is called antibody-negative myasthenia gravis.   Antibodies against another protein called lipoprotein-related protein 4 can play a part in the development of this condition.

In rare cases, mothers with myasthenia gravis have children who are born with the condition.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to take the time this month to help make others aware of myasthenia gravis. By sending this blog post on to friends and colleagues, you can help support Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month.Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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WHO Recognizes “Burnout” as a Medical Issue

June 5th, 2019

Woman in business suit looking stressed.The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes burnout as an occupational phenomenon. The agency now includes burnout in its International Classification of Diseases Handbook, which guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases. 

Diagnosing Burnout

WHO describes burnout as a syndrome resulting from “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”  According to WHO, doctors can issue a diagnosis of burnout if a patient exhibits three symptoms:

  1. Feeling depleted of energy or exhausted.
  2. Feeling mentally distanced from or cynical about one’s job.
  3. Problems getting one’s job done successfully.

Burnout is to be used specifically in the occupational context and it should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.

Before making the call, doctors should first rule out adjustment disorder as well as anxiety and mood disorders.

Signs of Burnout

Psychologist Herbert Freudenberger is credited with inaugurating the formal study of the state of burnout with a scientific article published in 1974. The telltale signs of burnout are:

  • Detachment
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of focus
  • Negative feelings
  • Physical and emotional fatigue

One in five highly engaged employees is at risk for burnout.

Tips to avoiding burnout:

  1. Sleep: Insomnia is one of the symptoms of burnout. When you don’t sleep, your brain doesn’t function at its prime. Getting too little sleep also has serious consequences, including lack of judgment, increased likelihood of car accidents and development of chronic diseases like cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and depression. Science has proven that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep nightly to function optimally.
  2. Exercise: Regular exercise reduces levels of stress, improves self-confidence, prevents cognitive decline, increases productivity, and improves memory.
  3. Laugh: Laughing relieves stress and has many positive short-term and long-term effects.
  4. Socialize: Spending time with people outside of work gives you much needed emotional fulfillment. Making work your entire life will leave you burned out and emotionally detached.
  5. Start saying no: Choose what is most important to you and what is most necessary to your work.

In 2018, a Gallup Survey found nearly one in four employees feels burned out always or often.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to live a healthy and well balanced life.Before you start to suffer from symptoms of burnout, take the time to evaluate if the choices you are making at work are what is best for your overall health.IAA knows that a good work /life balance is what is best for everyone.

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