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Mature Focus: Feb. 6

Apps for managing medicines

Taking medications on schedule and at consistent doses is essential for them to work properly. This is especially true when it comes to heart medications; and for seniors who take several of them, it can be especially difficult to keep the dosing and timing straight. In fact, studies show that about 40 percent of patients do not always take their medications correctly, increasing their risk of future heart attacks.

However, new Australian research recently published in Heart shows that using mobile medication management apps can effectively help people with heart disease stay on top of their meds more consistently.

Following are the top five medication reminder apps currently available in the U.S., along with a few of their features, according to Medicare.org. All of these apps notify users when to take their meds on a daily basis, as well as provide medication management, drug interaction information and prescription refill reminders [all but one are available on both IOS and Android devices] :

1. Medisafe Meds & Pill Reminder – Caregivers and doctors can interact with this app, which also tracks blood pressure, glucose, weight, pulse and temperature, to get notifications about when it’s time for their loved one to take their medication, and see whether or not it’s marked as taken.

2. CareZone – A camera feature can take pictures of important documents and save them for later; through the app, users can also import the details of prescriptions from pictures of pill bottles.

3. Care4Today – This app can notify family members immediately when doses are missed. It can create daily or monthly graphs to show how the medication schedule is being followed, and share them with caregivers and healthcare providers.

4. RoundHealth – This simple app has an easy-to-use interface for storing and managing medications and vitamins.

5. Pill Reminder by Drugs.com [IOS only] – Custom notes and photos of each medication can be added in the app, with instructions about how it should be taken.

Heart failure update

Older adults diagnosed with heart failure can still enjoy alcohol safely in moderation, according to a new Washington University study.

A new study conducted at Washington University in St. Louis suggests that people over age 65 who are newly diagnosed with heart failure can continue to drink alcohol in moderation without worsening their condition. It suggests that older heart failure patients can safely continue to drink up to one serving of alcohol per day for women and two for men.

In fact, the study also showed that moderate drinkers lived just over a year longer on average compared with those who abstained from alcohol completely. However, their findings do not mean non-drinkers should take up the habit after a heart failure diagnosis, the researchers emphasized.

“My patients who are newly diagnosed with heart failure often ask me if they should stop having that glass of wine every night,” said senior author and cardiologist David L. Brown, M.D. “And until now, I didn’t have a good answer for them … But our study suggests people who have had a daily drink or two before their diagnosis of heart failure can continue to do so without concern that it’s causing harm.

Gender and statins

A large-scale data analysis shows that less than half of women who fill a statin prescription following a heart attack receive a “high-intensity” statin, indicating that they continue to be less likely than men to be prescribed these potentially lifesaving medications despite efforts by the American Heart Association and other authorities to standardize treatment between the sexes.  The study, which was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, analyzed 2014 and 2015 data from more than 88,000 U.S. heart attack patients who filled a statin prescription within 30 days after leaving the hospital. High-intensity doses [i.e., atorvastatin 40 to 80 mg. and rosuvastatin 20 to 40 mg.] were found to be the first statin prescription fill following hospital discharge after heart attack for 47 percent of women and 56 percent of men.

Since 2013, treatment guidelines have recommended the use of high-intensity statin therapy for both women and men less than 75 years of age for secondary heart attack prevention.

“Prior studies have found that women are less likely than men to receive treatment with statins following a heart attack. Our study shows that even when women receive statins, these continue to be in lower intensities than the guidelines recommend,” said Sanne A.E. Peters, Ph.D., the study’s lead author.

News for the heart

February is American Heart Month, an annual observance held to remind people about the importance of preventing heart disease – which remains the nation’s No. 1 killer of both men and women. To mark this important observance, the following is a roundup of some recent medical studies and news updates regarding heart health.

Ms. Missouri Senior America seeks 2019 pageant contestants

Organizers of the annual Ms. Missouri Senior America pageant are currently registering contestants for the 2019 competition, which will take place July 14 at the Florissant Civic Center.

The annual St. Louis region pageant showcases area women age 60 or older who have reached the “Age of Elegance.” Contestants will compete in four categories: participating in a personal interview with judges prior to the pageant; reciting a 35-second philosophy of life; modeling an evening gown, and presenting a 2 1/2 minute talent.

A 2019 queen will be crowned at the July event, and first and second runners-up selected. All participants also will be invited to become members of the Missouri Pageant Alumnae Club, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of area seniors.

Those interested in becoming contestants should contact Susan Pellegrino at (314) 640-5789 or msmosenior@gmail.com to fill out an inquiry form. Following this step, talent auditions will be held on March 19.

On the calendar

BJC and St. Louis Oasis present Fit for Function on Thursday, Feb. 21 from 10 a.m.-noon at the McClay Branch Library, 2760 McClay Road in St. Charles. Learn about new research proving that basic strength training can reverse muscle loss at this presentation and functional fitness screening. Find out what it means to be functionally fit, and whether your level of fitness falls within national norms. Attendance is free. To register, call (636) 928-9355.

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The St. Louis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association presents Living with Memory Loss, a free four-week program to be held on consecutive Wednesdays, beginning March 6, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters, in Room 108A of Medical Office Building 1. This program is open to people with early- to mid-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia and their family members. Advance registration is required by visiting bjcstcharlescounty.org/Events.

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Showcase on Seniors presents a monthly program for older adults, Disaster Preparedness, on Wednesday, March 6 from 1:30-3 p.m. at the St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre, 1 St. Peters Centre Blvd. in St. Peters. A one-time annual registration fee of $5 is required for first-time participants. To register, visit bjcstcharlescounty.org/Events or call (636) 397-6903.

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