Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Are you following up on the Swine Flu?

Last weekend while enjoying my get away in Palm Springs, I saw the news covering the cases of Swine Flu in Mexico and the US on CNN. I knew at that point that this was going to become the next big health topic for the next few weeks. Each day the cases grow and the concern deepens as the number of infected people increases. Now, the discussion/debate is whether it should be considered as an epidemic or pandemic alert.

An epidemic affects a large portion of a population in a community or region at the same time. If the cases of the Swine Flu were only reported in Mexico, it may be considered as an epidemic.

Pandemic is a sudden outbreak that spreads rather quickly throughout a whole region, continent, or the world. For example, the cases of the Swine Flu are currently recorded in Mexico, U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Israel, Spain and New Zealand and there may be more countries reporting the outbreak shortly.

There are levels of issuing a pandemic alert:

Levels 1-3 are for the animals that infect each other with very few cases of human infection.

Level 4 takes the human to human contact – human to animal contact which in turn affects a community.

Levels 5/6 is the widespread human infection.

Post Peak - monitors the period after the cases have dropped and continues to monitor to see if there is a second wave of new cases.

Post Pandemic – time to prepare for the next possible outbreak by taking the proper steps to handle any future occurrences.

The Swine Flu is a highly contagious acute respiratory disease on pigs which can then be transmitted to humans who are exposed to the infected swine and then through human to human contact. The symptoms are similar to having the flu – feeling feverish, lethargic, no appetite, coughing, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.


Unfortunately, the death tolls have risen within the last few days in Mexico. Although there are no deaths reported from the other countries, we must all take note of the outbreak and prepare to follow the proper cautionary steps as advised by the health care professionals/health care governmental agencies. It is also important to note that there are no vaccines available for humans at this time.

One simple rule that is always advised even by your parents, wash your hands. It is also advised that you refrain from traveling while under the weather. It’s a tough call especially if you are all packed and ready to go on a great escape. However, an ounce of prevention is certainly worth more that a pound of cure. Do not dismiss the news coverage as something that does not or will not affect you. Know the symptoms and follow through with a call to your doctor or a visit to the closest emergency room.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Minority Health Awareness Month- April

Many are unaware that April is the month where we focus on promoting Minority Health. It is an effort to bring awareness to the health disparities that exist and to also educate and encourage minorities to take charge of their health and wellness. The statistics from the Office of Minority Health, clearly indicates that minorities have taken the lead in mortality rates in the following areas:

Asthma

• From 2003-2005, African American children had a death rate 7 times that of non-Hispanic White children.
• African Americans had asthma-related emergency room visits 4.5 times more often than Whites in 2004.
• American Indian/Alaska Native adults were 60% more likely to be diagnosed with asthma, in 2006.
• Asian Americans generally have lower rates of asthma than the White population, but they had a 50% greater death rate in 2003.
• Puerto Rican Americans have almost three times the asthma rate as compared to the overall Hispanic population.
• Puerto Ricans report 2.5 times more asthma attacks per year than non-Hispanic Whites.

Cancer

• Although breast cancer is diagnosed 10% less frequently in African American women than White women, African American women are 34% more likely to die from the disease.
• American Indian Women are 1.7 times as likely to die from cervical cancer as compared to white women.
• Asian/Pacific Islander men and women have higher incidence and mortality rates for stomach and liver cancer.
• In 2004, Hispanic women are twice as likely as non-Hispanic white women to be diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Chronic Liver Disease

• African American men are 80% more likely to have chronic liver disease than non-Hispanic White men.
• Asian Americans are 2.2 times more likely to die from chronic liver disease, as compared to non-Hispanic Whites.
• Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders are seven times more likely to be diagnosed with chronic liver disease, as compared to non-Hispanic Whites.
• Both Hispanic men and women have a chronic liver disease rate that is twice that of the White population.
• Hispanic men and women are almost twice as likely to die from chronic liver disease, as compared to the non-Hispanic White population.
• In 2004, chronic liver disease was the fifth leading cause of death for all American Indian/Alaska Native men, and the third leading cause of death for men, ages 35-44.
• The overall death rate for American Indian/Alaska Natives is 2.6 times higher than for the White population, in 2005.

Diabetes

• African American adults were 1.9 times more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician.
• American Indian/Alaska Native adults were 2.3 times as likely as white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes.
• In Hawaii, Native Hawaiians are more than 5.7 times as likely as Whites living in Hawaii to die from diabetes.
• Mexican American adults were 1.9 times more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician.

Heart Disease

• African Americans are 1.4 times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to have high blood pressure.
• American Indian/Alaska Native adults are 1.3 times as likely as White adults to have high blood pressure.
• Overall, Asian/Pacific Islander adults are less likely than white adults to have heart disease and they are less likely to die from heart disease.
• Mexican American women are 1.2 times more likely than non-Hispanic white women to be obese.

Hepatitis

• In 2005, non-Hispanic Blacks were almost twice as likely to die from viral hepatitis, as compared to non-Hispanic Whites.
• In 2006, American Indian/Alaska Natives were 2.7 times more likely to develop a case of Hepatitis C, as compared to the White population.
• In 2006, Asian Americans were 1.8 times more likely to contract Hepatitis A, as compared to Whites.
• Hispanics are three times more likely to be diagnosed with Hepatitis A than non-Hispanic Whites.
• In 2002, Black children were 3.2 times more likely than White children to be diagnosed with acute viral Hepatitis B.

HIV/AIDS
• African American males have 7.7 times the AIDS rate as non-Hispanic white males.
• American Indian/Alaska Native women have 2.8 times the AIDS rate as non-Hispanic white women.
• Hispanic females have almost 5 times the AIDS rate as non-Hispanic white females.
• Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander are twice as likely to be diagnosed with AIDS as the White population.
Obesity

• From 2001-2004, African American women were 70% more likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic White women.
• Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders are 3.7 times more likely to be obese than the overall Asian American population.
• In 2003- 2004 Mexican American children, between the ages 6-11, were 1.3 times more likely to be overweight as Non- Hispanic White Children.
• American Indian/Alaskan Natives are 1.6 times as likely to be obese than Non-Hispanic whites.

Stroke

• African American adults are twice as likely than their White adult counterparts to have a stroke.
• In general, American Indian/Alaska Native adults are 60% more likely to have a stroke than their White adult counterparts.
• In general, Asians/Pacific Islander adults are less likely than white adults to have suffered a stroke, and they are less likely to die from a stroke.
• In 2005, Hispanic men were 15% less likely to die from a stroke than non-Hispanic white men.

These are just a few of the many other diseases that affect the mortality rates of the minority population. The main purpose of this article is not only to bring awareness but to also activate a change in behaviors. Take advantage of the free and low cost screenings; visit your doctors regularly; eat healthy; exercise and pass on the information to others. Do not become complacent with these themed months,awareness pins, buttons or symbols but take a good look at yourself - realize that your actions may determine the time you have here to enjoy life with your loved ones.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring into Health & Wellness

Springtime is upon us and many of us are still working on our new year's goal to maintain a healthy and well balanced life. Somewhere after December 25th and January 1st, 2009 we vowed to get in shape, lose those excess pounds, be fit for the summer time - determined to get back into those clothes that have remained useless for quite a while. For those of you who haven't quite reach the goals, there is still time to work towards achieving them.

As the weather becomes consistently better, plan to make some small changes:
1. Get up early and go for a brisk walk for 30 minutes, as you become more comfortable with the walk mix it up with a walk and run/jog at a pace that works for you.

2. If the morning does not work for you, try the evening after you get home. You may feel more comfortable going to the park or the streets in your neighborhood may serve you just fine.

3. You can also try to find a willing partner to join you.

4. If you are still not ready to venture outdoors, turn on the television and find a workout program.

5. You can also find a great supportive group by signing up for various run/walk events in your town/city. There are always a great number of causes to show your support by participating.

video

Tips
Add more water
100% fruit juices
Fruits
Vegetables
Yogurt
Fiber
Whole Wheat
Vitamins

Be consistent, it will take some time to see the results and when you do, you will be so glad that you did.