FDA Approves COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use

December 16th, 2020

Needle and vial marked vaccineOn December 11, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in people 16 years of age and older.

COVID-19 Vaccine

The initial delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine consists of nearly 3 million doses. The vaccine is being sent to more than 600 sites nationwide.

The approval comes after vaccines advisors to the FDA voted on December 10 to recommend the FDA grant emergency use authorization to Pfizer and BioNtech’s vaccine. Seventeen members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted yes, four voted no and one abstained.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine offers more than 50 percent protection against the virus within 10 days of receiving the first dose, according to documents released on December 8 by the FDA.  The two vaccine doses are intended to be administered 21 days apart.

Data posted online by the FDA also suggests that the vaccine works well irrespective of recipients’ race, weight or age.  Trial participants are diverse, with representatives across ethnic and racial groups, co- morbidities and age.

Side Effects

The shots may come with side effects, which include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain

Four cases of Bell’s palsy were identified in participants who received the vaccine and none in the group who received the placebo. At least one of the participants recovered within a few days of getting the shot.

There is no evidence that the vaccine caused the problem, but the FDA is expected to recommend long-term follow up.

What IAA has to Say

With vaccine distribution starting, there now seems to be a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Insurance Administrator of America continues to hope that everyone stays healthy and safe.  Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Technology and Our Health

December 9th, 2020

Apple sitting next to small weightsTechnology plays a vital role in the medical field. Scientists are creating and researching new equipment which can help improve the world’s health and well being.

Socks and Your Vital Signs

New research shows it won’t be long before items like socks or wristbands are tracking a variety of vital signs, from a person’s heart rate and blood pressure to their cholesterol levels and circadian rhythms.

According to a paper published on December 1 in the journal “Applied Physics Reviews,” microfibers and nanofibers will make it possible for pieces of clothing to keep tabs on common ailments, such as diabetes, asthma, obesity, and high blood pressure.

Wearable fibers are sensitive and flexible, capable of being woven directly into a person’s skin—like a tattoo.  These fibers can measure:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Heart rate
  • Oxygen levels
  • Sleep quality

Wearable monitors could help healthcare providers manage these problems more efficiently, researchers say.

Nanofiber sensors which have properties that derive energy from motion could be ready for market in two to three years.

Meanwhile, more work must be done to make vital-sensing microfibers more durable. Researchers must also develop new ways to power microfiber sensors.

VR Glasses to Help With Pain

Virtual reality glasses or hypnosis can relieve pain and anxiety in people having short medical procedures, a new study finds.

For those getting an IV catheter or stitches to close a wound, these distraction techniques reduce the need for painkillers, say researchers. It was not intended for any kind of surgery.

The study involved more than 100 patients ages six to over 65. Patients were randomly assigned to standard pain medications, VR glasses or hypnosis, before and during the procedure.

Patients who received hypnosis were distracted by continuous talk and positive suggestions to make them feel they were in another place doing something they liked.  The VR glasses provided visual and verbal distraction throughout the procedure. A calming voice and a cartoon movie delivered positive suggestions, similar to hypnosis.

The team found that VR glasses or hypnosis reduced pain and anxiety levels where no painkillers were needed. No adverse side effects were seen and patients in the VR group were more likely to be satisfied than the other groups, researchers noted.  

The findings were released on November 29.

What IAA has to Say

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Hormone Found in Humans Could Help Obesity

December 2nd, 2020

Apple sitting next to small weightsA hormone that can suppress food intake and increase the feeling of fullness in mice has shown similar results in humans, according to a new study.

New Potential Treatment

The hormone called lipocalin-2 (LCN2) could be used as a potential treatment in people with obesity whose natural signals for feeling full no longer work.

LCN2 acts as a signal for satiety after a meal, leading mice to limit their food intake by acting on the hypothalamus within the brain.

Studies in mice have shown that giving LCN2 to the animals long-term reduces their food intake and prevents weight gain, without leading to a slow-down in their metabolism.

The team first analyzed data from four different studies of people in the United States and Europe who were either normal weight, overweight or living with obesity.

The people in each study were given a meal after an overnight fast, and the amount of LCN2 in their blood before and after the meal was studied. The researchers found that in those who were normal weight there was an increase in LCN2 levels after the meal, which coincided with how satisfied they felt after eating. By contrast, in people who were overweight or had obesity LCN2 levels decreased after a meal.

Researchers said this suggests that lower levels of LCN2 may contribute to obesity and that the hormone may have potential as an obesity treatment.

The study was published in the journal “eLife”.

Healthy Weight Loss

Healthy weight loss isn’t just about a “diet” or a “program”.  It is about an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits. Evan a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight is likely to produce health benefits such as improvements in blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugars.

Not sure where to start? Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Make a commitment: Making the decision to lose weight and become healthier is a big step. Start simply by making a commitment to yourself.
  2. Take stock of where you are: Consider talking to your healthcare provider. The doctor can evaluate your height, weight and explore other weight related risk factors you may have. Next, examine your current lifestyle.
  3. Set realistic goals: Focus on two to three goals at a time. Great effective goals are specific, realistic and forgiving.
  4. Identify resources for information and support: Find family members or friends who will support your weight loss efforts. Making lifestyle changes can feel easier when you have others to talk to.
  5. Continually “check in” with yourself to monitor your progress: Revisit the goals you set for yourself and evaluate your progress regularly.

Reward yourself for your successes. Recognize when you are meeting your goals and be proud of your progress.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to have a healthy life. Make the time to evaluate your diet and see if there are any healthy lifestyle changes you can make! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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A Good Night’s Sleep may Help Your Heart

November 25th, 2020

Woman sleeping in bed with cell phonePeople who regularly get a good night’s sleep may help protect themselves from heart failure, a large new study suggests.

Sleep Habits and Your Heart

The study’s research team used data on over 400,000 UK adults who took part in a long-term health study. When participants were between the ages of 37 and 73, they answered questions about their sleep routines.

Healthy sleepers reported five things:

  1. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night
  2. No snoring
  3. Rarely having trouble falling or staying asleep
  4. No daytime grogginess
  5. Being a “morning” person

Researchers gave each person a “healthy sleep score” of 0 to 5, based on the number of healthy habits they reported.

Over roughly a decade, 5,221 study participants were diagnosed with heart failure, a chronic condition where the heart muscles can no longer pump efficiently to meet the body’s needs.

Overall, the team found that people who had reported all five healthy sleep habits were 42 percent less likely to have heart failure than people who had reported none or only one.

Since good sleepers might be health conscious too, the team accounted for exercise, diet, smoking and drinking habits, as well as medical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. They also factored in people’s education levels and household income. 

While the findings do not prove cause and effect, they do build on a body of research linking sleep quality to heart health. It is not that poor sleep directly causes heart failure; instead it can feed the risk factors for heart failure, through effects on stress hormones, blood pressure and heart rate.

The findings were published online in the journal “Circulation.”

Better Sleep Habits

Adopt habits that encourage better sleep:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule: Set aside no more than eight hours for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours.
  2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink: Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed. Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution too. The stimulating effects of caffeine and nicotine take hours to wear off and can wreak havoc on quality sleep. And even though alcohol might make you feel sleepy, it can disrupt sleep later in the night.
  3. Create a restful environment: Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Exposure to light might make it more challenging to fall asleep.  Avoid prolonged use of light-emitting screens before bedtime.
  4. Limit daytime naps
  5. Include physical activity in your daily routine: Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. Avoid being active too close to bedtime however.
  6. Manage worries: Try to resolve your concerns before bedtime. Jot down what is on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow.

Evaluating your sleep habits and improving on them, can help your overall health.

What IAA has to Say

Studies may come and studies may go, but there seems to be a consistent trend between your sleep habits and health.  Insurance Administrator of America wants you to evaluate your sleep patterns and see if there is anything you can change to give yourself a better night's sleep. Just think of IAA as your third party sandman.

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Alex Trebek Passes Away From Pancreatic Cancer

November 18th, 2020

Diagram of pancreasJeopardy! host Alex Trebek passed away due to pancreatic cancer at the age of 80. Trebek had announced his diagnosis on March 6, 2019. He was the host of Jeopardy! since 1984 and appeared in more than 8,000 episodes. 

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas. The pancreas releases enzymes that aid digestion and produce hormones that help manage your blood sugar.

The most common type of cancer that forms in the pancreas begins in the cells that line the ducts that carry digestive enzymes out of the pancreas.

Less frequently, cancer can form in the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas. 

Pancreatic cancer makes up three percent of all cancer diagnosed each year, and seven percent of cancer deaths according to the American Cancer Society.

Signs and Symptoms

Pancreatic cancer is seldom detected at its early stages when it’s most curable. This is because it often doesn’t cause symptoms until after it has spread to other organs. Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don’t occur until the disease is advanced. They may include:

  • Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
  • Dark colored urine
  • Itchy skin
  • Light colored stools
  • Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss
  • New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that’s becoming more difficult to control
  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes

The average lifetime risk of pancreatic cancer is about 1 in 64.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to know what is going on in the world of health. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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