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Support from the heart

Members of the WomenHeart of St. Charles County support group are easily identified by their red scarves, which the Barnes-Jewish St. Peters and Progress West Auxiliary has been knitting and crocheting since 2010.

Members of the WomenHeart of St. Charles County support group are easily identified by their red scarves, which the Barnes-Jewish St. Peters and Progress West Auxiliary has been knitting and crocheting since 2010.

The local support group WomenHeart is providing encouragement and education “from the heart” to area women with heart disease.

In 2009, cardiac rehabilitation nurses Laurie Schlueter and Diane Young heard about WomenHeart, a national organization founded in 1999 devoted to advancing women’s heart health through advocacy, community education and patient support. They asked former patients Kathy Williams and Shelly Rosenmiller to lead a WomenHeart support group in St. Charles County, and the women now run lively meetings, providing encouragement to those who have received distressing news from their doctors and celebrating victories with those who have made progress against heart disease.

“The meetings give women an opportunity to share their heart journey and connect with other women going through some of the same things,” Williams said. “We strive to help women with lifestyle changes, regaining a balance in their lives and taking charge of their heart health.”

WomenHeart of St. Charles County support group meetings are held in the Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital cardiology department on the second Thursday of each month. The meet-and-greet starts at 6 p.m. and is followed by the meeting at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call 916-9398, or visit www.womenheart.org.

Colorectal cancer awareness

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and doctors at Penn State Hershey Medical Center are observing the occasion by highlighting for the public the following facts about the disease:

• Colorectal cancer is the only type of cancer doctors can prevent by screening for it. They can prevent the disease by removing polyps.

• National recommendations calling for all adults to get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 50 have resulted in fewer cases of the disease.

• Race and ethnicity, genetics and lifestyle play a role in development of colorectal cancer. African-Americans are more likely to get it than Caucasians, who get it more often than Hispanics and Asians. Having a first-degree relative with large polyps or colorectal cancer calls for earlier and more frequent screening. Exercising, keeping weight in check and refraining from smoking help reduce the chance of getting the disease.

• A Mediterranean diet that includes less red meat and more fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables is good for the colon.

• A daily aspirin might help prevent not only heart attacks and stroke, but also colon cancer; however, people should check with a doctor before starting a daily aspirin regimen.

• Colorectal cancers are very curable when caught early, and only about 10 percent of cases require a permanent colostomy.

• A multi-disciplinary treatment approach leads to the best outcomes. Surgery is most important, and chemotherapy and radiation augment the likelihood of a cure.

• Treatment options have improved in recent years, with minimally invasive surgeries more common and more effective chemotherapies enabling treatment of advanced-stage disease.

The right fit

Study findings presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ annual meeting underscore the importance of football players wearing helmets that fit properly.

Sports medicine experts looked at data on helmet fit and concussion severity of more than 4,500 high school football players over nine seasons. They focused on players with first-time concussions and used data from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance System.

Findings revealed that players whose concussions were attributed to helmets that did not fit properly suffered higher rates of drowsiness, hyper-excitability and noise sensitivity, and many suffered more than one of the concussion symptoms researchers were tracking.

According to study co-author Dustin Greenhill, M.D., when a helmet does not fit correctly, muscles in the athlete’s neck and head might not be able to reduce the force of impact on the brain. He said correct helmet fit varies with design, so players should be sized according to manufacturer instructions.

Greenhill noted also that helmet fit can change due to sweat, an athlete’s hairstyle, rain and other factors.

Medication is not taken as prescribed 50 percent of the time, according to the CDC.

Medication is not taken as prescribed 50 percent of the time, according to the CDC.

Take as prescribed

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] recently issued a reminder to consumers about the importance of taking medications as prescribed, even warning that failure to take the right dose, the right way and at the right time could be fatal.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 20-30 percent of new prescriptions never are filled; medication is not taken as prescribed 50 percent of the time; only about half of people prescribed medicine for high blood pressure continue taking their medication long-term; and among those prescribed drugs for chronic conditions, within six months, the majority either stop taking their medicine or take less than prescribed.

The FDA offered these tips for taking prescription medicines:

• Take medication at the same time every day.

• Tie taking medications with a daily routine, like brushing your teeth or getting ready for bed. Before choosing mealtime for the routine, check to see if the drug should be taken on an empty or full stomach.

• Keep a “medicine calendar” with pill bottles and note each time you take a dose.

• Use a pill container. Some types have sections for multiple doses at different times, such as morning, lunch, evening and night.

• When using a pill container, refill it at the same time each week.

• Purchase timer caps for pill bottles, and set them to go off when your next dose is due to be taken. Or, get a pill box with a timer function.

• When traveling, be sure to bring enough medication for a few extra days in case your return trip is delayed. If traveling by air, keep medication in your carry-on; checked luggage could get lost, and temperatures in the cargo hold could damage medication.

Peanut allergy protection

Eating foods containing peanut early in life appears to significantly reduce the odds of peanut allergy later in life – even when peanut consumption is halted for a year.

Learning Early About Peanut Allergy, a landmark study known as “LEAP,” previously determined that most infants at high-risk for peanut allergy were protected from the allergy at age 5 if they ate peanut frequently beginning in the first 11 months of life.

For a newer study known as “LEAP-On,” researchers had LEAP study participants avoid peanut consumption from age 5 to age 6. After 12 months of avoidance, there was no significant increase in the incidence of peanut allergy among those children.

According to Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, LEAP-On results show that eating foods containing peanuts beginning in infancy “induces peanut tolerance that persists following a year of avoidance, suggesting the lasting benefits of early-life consumption for infants at high risk of developing peanut allergy.”

Researchers said additional studies are needed to determine longer-term results.

On the calendar

“What Does a Healthy Female Body Look Like?” is from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30 at Middendorf-Kredell Library, 2750 Hwy. K in O’Fallon. Dr. Cory Miller, M.D., OB/GYN, shares his thoughts about a healthy body image. Following the presentation, attendees may ask questions, then sample smoothies prepared by a Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital chef. Registration is required. Call 928-9355.

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The first session of “Living with Alzheimer’s,” a four-session program, is from 10 a.m.-noon on Tuesday, April 5 at Progress West Hospital, 2 Progress Point Parkway in O’Fallon. The Alzheimer’s Association program is for people with early memory loss, and family and friends are encouraged to attend. To learn more and register, call 928-9355.

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“Questions about Diabetes?” is from noon-1 p.m. on Thursday, April 7 at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters. The “Lunch-and Learn” program provides attendees with an opportunity to get expert information from a diabetes educator while enjoying lunch. The $5 fee includes lunch. Registration is required. Call 928-9355.

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“Sleep Issues in the Young Child,” a program for parents only, is from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 7 at Wentzville Early Childhood Center, 2025 Hanley Road in O’Fallon. A nurse/child sleep specialist discusses children and common sleep problems, covering healthy sleep practices, strategies to improve a child’s sleep, common sleep transitions, co-sleeping vs. sleeping alone, the practice of “cry it out” and more. Parents of newborns to school-age children are welcome. Admission is free, and registration is required. Call (314) 542-4848, or visit www.stlukes-stl.com.

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