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Legs for Life Campaign to Run PVD Tests

See grandpa run ... lately? No? Could be PVD. Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) is known for defeating elder leg strength. Haven't heard of PVD? I'm not surprised. According to the Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology (SCVIR), PVD is often unrecognized, and therefore untreated. That's not good because the consequences of PVD can be devastating. Interestingly, the disease responses rather well to early detection and treatment. Ironically, many elders, and often their doctors, are not aware of the presence of the disease.

An estimated 1 million Americans develop symptoms of PVD each year, according to the SCVIR. Peripheral Vascular Disease is caused by blocked blood flow in the arteries of the legs and often causes pain or swelling, difficulty walking, numbness and skin discoloration. This little known disease currently affects as many as 5% of men and 2% of women over the age of 60. The most common symptom of PVD is leg pain, particularly when walking or exercising, which subsides after a few minutes of rest.

Because PVD is easily treated with early detection, more than 500 members of the Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology (SCVIR) doctors across the nation will join this September in a public education campaign and screening program called "Legs for Life". In men, the onset of PVD symptoms often occurs in the 50s. Onset in women is typically ten years later.

Symptoms of this disease include pulse deficits, abnormalities in skin color, and leg pain. While many patients who have PVD are at higher-than-average risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, many primary care physicians are not aware of the disease and the options for treatment. "Symptoms of PVD are often confused with the signs of degenerative aging or arthritis", says SCVIR president, Dr. Matthew A. Mauro who is also a professor of Radiology at the University of North Carolina. "We can improve the overall cardiovascular health of our communities by getting the word out about this disease, which is under-recognized and under-treated."

The "Legs for Life" screenings consist of a brief, non-invasive exam that involves taking the person's arm and ankle blood pressure to assess the potential of disease. People who appear to be at moderate or high risk for PVD will be advised to see their physician for additional evaluation. PVD screenings are conducted by appointment, typically in 10-minute intervals.

Treatment options beyond lifestyle changes form more advanced cases of PVD include angioplasty (inflating a tiny balloon in the artery), thrombolytic therapy (clot-busting drugs), by-pass graft (creating a detour around the blocked artery), and thrombectomy (removal of the blood clot). For additional information on PVD, consumers can visit the SCVIR's "Legs for Life" website at: A complete listing of this Fall's "Legs for Life" screenings across the country will be posted at the website in August.
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Vitamin C May Delay Age-related Cataracts

Here's an interesting trend. A growing number of optometrists are incorporating some degree of nutrition counseling into their practice, says the American Optometric Association (AOA). Sound strange? Not really. Eating fresh citrus fruits, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables just might prevent age-related cataracts, or at least delay their development. That's because these foods are sources of Vitamin C.

Cataracts, a clouding of all or part of the lens of the eye, cause blurred or dimmed vision. They can result from injury, exposure to heat or radiation, or inherited factors. But most seem to be part of the aging process. The AOA says that research estimates that about 1-in-7 individuals, age 40 and older, have cataracts.

"At least ten studies have shown that taking 300 milligrams (mg) or more of ascorbic acid daily decreases the risk of developing age-related cataracts," says Stuart Richer, O.D., PhD, chief of optometry at the DVA Medical Center in North Chicago. "For those who wish to prevent cataracts, I would recommend 250 mg to 500 mg per day from food sources or supplements. The average American intakes only 110 mg per day."

The current RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for vitamin C is now 60 mg, far too low for prevention, Richer says. But he believes that data in respected scientific journals will result in the Food and Nutrition Board (National Academy of Sciences) approving an increase in the RDA by Fall of 1999.

To sum things up, the current RDA for Vitamin C is 60 mg. On average, Americans consume about twice the RDA, or 110 mg. But that's not enough according to Dr. Richer's research. He suggests that a 500 mg RDA is necessary to prevent or delay age-related cataract. The way I see it, there are several trends to look for in health care. First, we can expect increasing numbers of optometrists to include nutrition counseling in their practices. Second, if the Food and Nutrition Board does decide to increase the RDA for Vitamin C, then expect Americans to start lining up to buy yet another anti-aging supplement. Of course, they could just eat healthier. But then again, pill-popping has become as American as apple pie.
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As Boomers Age, Cosmetic Surgery Increases

Since baby boomers crossed the 50 year mark, cosmetic surgery for the 51-64 age group has increased 47 percent. According to the latest statistics from the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (ASPRS) cosmetic surgery in this age group increased from 164,000 in 1996, when the first boomers turned 50, to 242,000 in 1998.

Boomers aren't the only ones driving the upward trend in cosmetic surgery. More seniors age 55 and older are choosing cosmetic surgery. The 1998 study reflects a 113 percent increase since 1996, with cosmetic procedures rising from 42,000 to 90,000 in 1998. In 1996, seniors accounted for six percent of the total cosmetic surgery population. In 1998 they accounted for nine percent.

The most popular procedures for both boomers and seniors are eyelid surgery, facelifts, liposuction, and laser skin resurfacing. "Due to healthier lifestyles, men and women age 50 and older are feeling good about themselves and want to maintain a youthful appearance," says Paul Schnur, MD, ASPRS president. "As this large segment of the U.S. population ages, we anticipate the increase in cosmetic surgery to continue."

The ASPRS represents 97 percent of all physicians certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In order to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a physician must have graduated from an accredited medical school, completed at least five years of additional residency, practiced plastic surgery for two years, and passed both written and oral examinations. Consumers may call the Plastic Surgery Information Service at 1-800-635-0635 to find a plastic surgeon in their area.
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If You Don't Long to Live, You Won't Live Too Long

There is now a vast body of research showing that people who often suffer negative emotions tend to die sooner that people who face life with positive emotions. According to Dr. Susan S. Knox, National Institute of Health (NIH), negative emotions include "worrying incessantly, feeling friendless, and flying off the handle". The latter emotion is also refered to as a "hot reactor".

Knox, an NIH researcher, studies the interaction of psychology and physiology at the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. "Emotional factors have a major impact on physical health," Knox tells New Choices magazine (July/August 1999). New Choices focuses on living better after age 50. Negative emotions, says Knox, often lead to weaker immune systems, higher rates of heart disease, and other major health problems.

If negative emotions tend to shorten one's life, then do positive emotions tend to lengthen life? Good question. The answer is a "yes". Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found that people with long histories of positive relationships tend to have lower levels of stress hormones, according to Dr. Carol Ryff, director of the University's Institute on Aging.

Everyone's got a "do" list, so here's a "do not" list that's designed to help you live a happier, longer life.
  • Do not make unfair demands of yourself
    Here's a few examples.
    "I must always do well and win the approval of others."
    "If I don't excel at all times, then I am worthless."
  • Do not make unjust demands of others
    Here's a few examples.
    "People must always treat me fairly."
    "If people don't treat me fairly, then they are bad people."
  • Do not make demands of others
    Examples include the following.
    "The conditions in which I live must be hassle-free."
    "If my living conditions are not hassle-free, I can't enjoy myself."
None of these ways of looking at the world holds up if you challenge them objectively, says NIH's Dr. Knox. Life's a progression, and as "we continue to develop and mature, we are better able to see our strong and weak points and accept what can and cannot be changed". "Self-knowledge is the basis of all wisdom."
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Managing Menopause in the Corporate Workplace

By the year 2000, the number of baby boomers going through menopause will increase at the rate of two million a year. Within five years, 17 million women of menopausal age will be in the American workforce. Given the sometimes disruptive symptoms of menopause, corporate America is beginning to ask itself how the problem is affecting workers' productivity. Women, on the other hand, are wondering if the symptoms could negatively impact their careers.

Today's mature female executive is beginning to struggle with menopause at the peak of her career, says Jane Elaine Taule, president of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Women are expected to work through menopause, while their male counterparts of the same age continue at their jobs without the physical and emotional complications. In addition, many women in their 40's and 50's were taught to avoid discussing menopause, which only adds to its mystique and embarrassment.

"Menopause is essentially the last corporate taboo," says Dr. Ranny Riley, president of LifeLines Institute, founded to educate corporate America about menopause. "Corporate America has addressed the issues of pregnancy, family leave and child care; now it's time to focus on the challenges surrounding menopause and its effects on women in the workplace. Discussing the issue with employees takes so little time, yet can provide huge benefits for both employers and employees."

In response to the need for menopause management, Novogyne Pharmaceuticals has launched Vivelle-Dot(tm), the world's smallest estrogen replacement therapy patch. The daily 0.05 mg dose, which is about the size of a standard postage stamp, provides women relief from hot flashes and night sweats. After the patch is applied to the lower abdomen, the estrogen is absorbed through the skin and goes directly into the bloodstream. Used twice weekly, the Vivelle-Dot is unaffected by common activities such as bathing, showering, or swimming.

The LifeLines Institute offers the following tips for coping with menopause in the workplace. Wear several layers of clothing so you can remove outer layers when a hot flash occurs. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods because they can trigger hot flashes. Develop a rapport with your supervisor on coping with symptoms that may interfere with work. Consult your doctor about treatment options because estrogens have been reported to increase the risk of endometrial carcinoma in postmenopausal women.
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