This post was developed in collaboration with Eisai Inc.
Fit, healthy and happy, my 54-year-old friend Deni wasn’t overly concerned when she noticed occasional spotting, about 15 months after what she assumed was her final period. “I felt anxious though when it became painful to pee. I was constantly bloated, and a strange pressure developed in my pelvic area,” Deni recalled.
A few months later – after finally talking to her gynecologist and undergoing a battery of tests and procedures, Deni’s ultrasound revealed an unusual thickening of her uterine wall. Tissue samples confirmed her fear. She had cancer, endometrial cancer. Before her diagnosis, Deni didn’t even know what that meant.
While many of us are aware of ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer is, in fact, the most common gynecological cancer in the United States, accounting for 90% of uterine cancer diagnoses.
The abnormal growth of cells in the lining of the uterus, endometrial cancer most commonly occurs after menopause, although it’s on the rise among women between 20 and 49 years old.
The causes of endometrial cancer are unknown, but some factors besides age that may increase a woman’s risk are obesity, family history, a high-fat diet, a lack of exercise, and a history of irregular periods. Overweight or obese women are two to four times more likely to develop this type of cancer than women with normal weights, according to the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute. So, there’s a possible link between the rise of obesity in the United States and increasing endometrial cancer diagnoses and deaths.
Fortunately for Deni, she was pronounced cancer free following a complete hysterectomy since the malignant cells were confined to her uterus. Thousands of other women, however, aren’t so lucky. Uninformed, they may relate painful urination to a urinary tract infection, bloating with using too much salt, and occasional spotting as just another nuisance after menopause. And, unlike Deni, they don’t seek help, or they wait until it’s too late!
While 84% of white women have an overall five-year survival rate for uterine cancers, the number drops to 62% for Black women. Less likely to have health insurance and adequate access to doctors, only 53% of Black women with the condition get an early diagnosis.
Besides the symptoms Deni experienced, other symptoms can include irregular or heavy bleeding before menopause, and abnormal bleeding or a brownish discharge post menopause. Having an unpleasant discharge might embarrass a woman into silence, but knowledge empowers us to take control of our own health. While these are not all of the possible symptoms of endometrial cancer, recognizing and talking about them with our gynecologists or primary care doctors may help us spot the cancer early, when it may be more treatable.
We all know that when one woman speaks up about her symptoms, other women are encouraged to follow. FORCE (Facing Our Risk Of Cancer Empowered), SHARE Cancer Support, Black Health Matters and Eisai have partnered to launch Spot Her, an initiative to help inspire all of us to know the signs of this serious cancer, spread the word, and speak to our doctors if we’re experiencing symptoms. Not next month. Not next week. But today.
“If you have symptoms, listen to your body and don’t be afraid,” Deni stressed. “Call your doctor. The sooner, the better. If I had waited any longer to speak to mine, the outcome may have been completely different.”
Join us in our pledge to #SpotHerForEC. For the women we love. For the women we are. Visit SpotHerForEC.com for information on endometrial cancer and on the important initiative.
Although it’s your decision – and your decision alone – whether or not to replace your hormones when they leave you, that pivotal life choice must be informed by evidence-based information. Not by fear, ignorance, or what another woman told you in a Facebook group.
Because your hormones are utterly critical to more life functions than you ever dreamed possible!
Learn the indisputable facts – pro and con – about hormone replacement at a real-time, information-packed Zoom Master Class with Dr. James Simon, a world-renowned expert.
Principal investigator on more than 300 clinical trials in the area of women’s health, Dr. Simon possesses such a wealth of knowledge he teaches other doctors about hormones.
Get the straight answers to these big questions -and a whole lot more-straight from the master’s voice.
When should I start taking hormones?
When should I stop?
Do hormones cause breast cancer?
Will hormones give me a heart attack?
If I had breast cancer, can I ever take hormones?
If my period stopped five years ago, can I start taking hormones now?
Hear what every woman must learn to make one of the best-informed decisions of her life.
For her life.
You owe it to your heart, brain, bones and breasts if you want to stay in tip-top shape as you age.
This is an exceptional opportunity you should not pass up.
I want to attend Dr. James Simon’s Real-Time Zoom Master Class on Hormones
Thursday, May 20, 2021
8 pm – 9:30 pm Eastern Time
5 pm – 6:30 pm Pacific Time
(Master Card, Visa and Amex all accepted)
We are compensating Dr. Simon for his time and knowledge. You also will be able to communicate directly with him at the session.
Sponsored by Merck in collaboration with American Lung Association and Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Reading a book to her six-year-old grandson, Sigrid had to stop mid-sentence to cough. “Grandma, are you ever going to stop coughing?” her grandson blurted out.
Grandma is 56-year-old Sigrid, who has been coughing since she was 39. You read that right: Coughing pretty much every day, in bouts she can’t control, for 17 years! Sigrid struggles with a condition called “chronic cough,” and it’s a part of her everyday life.
How can this be, you ask? You’ve heard coughing your whole life, from someone sitting next to you on the bus, to your significant other when he or she has a horrible cold. But you may not have heard of chronic cough.
The Facts About Chronic Cough
A reflex that protects your airway when it’s irritated from excessive mucus, dust, secondhand smoke, or even talking or laughing, coughing is considered “chronic” in adults when it lasts longer than eight weeks. Those with chronic cough commonly cough in “bouts” they can’t control, and they usually feel a powerful urge to cough before a bout begins. Chronic cough can often be associated with other health conditions, such as asthma, gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), upper airway cough syndrome (UACS) and non-asthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis (NAEB). In some patients, treating an underlying condition doesn’t resolve the chronic cough, or an underlying condition can’t be identified.
Although the condition also affects men, more women have it – typically women in their fifties.
Sigrid’s journey began in 2004 when an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) treating her 14-year-old son asked why she was “clearing her throat” so often and recommended that she return for tests. Sigrid told the doctor it felt as if something was in the back of her throat. “He thought I might have acid reflux, and recommended treatment,” she remembered.
Nothing worked for Sigrid. The throat clearing turned into a cough, which progressively worsened.
Sigrid’s healthcare provider referred her to multiple pulmonologists, allergists and internists over the years. She’s undergone a variety of tests and physical exams to try and identify the cause of her cough.
“My original doctor eventually said, ‘I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to do,’” Sigrid added.
And Sigrid’s chronic cough intensifies every year. “It can happen anywhere, anytime. There’s no rhyme or reason for it,” she lamented. It can erupt when she’s watching a movie with her husband. Taking a walk with her dog. Talking on the phone. Even when she rolls over in her sleep. “My husband and I have different sleep schedules because my cough keeps him awake at night”, Sigrid said. Some bouts are worse than others, and they make her feel constantly fatigued. She also gets tension headaches and back pain, depending on the severity of the coughing bout.
“Chronic cough has changed my life. I feel like I’m 86 even though I’m 56,” Sigrid said. “I’ve alwaysbeen an active and healthy person. It’s frustrating when you’ve never done a thing to bring this on.”
The Social and Emotional Impact
Chronic cough can have a social and emotional impact on patients. “My family has adjusted and is understanding, but sometimes they still get annoyed if they can’t watch a TV program without my interruptions, or I can’t finish a sentence and they’re in a hurry,” Sigrid explained. Once an active person (she met her husband at a gym), Sigrid now hesitates even going out in public. “Because of my cough, I feel like people stop and
stare, looking at me with contempt,” she said, “I feel like people don’t realize this is a chronic condition I can’t control.”
Now Sigrid wants to spread awareness of chronic cough and she’s sharing her story as part of The Cough Chronicles, a new support and educational program providing chronic cough resources in conjunction with a chronic cough community for patients to connect with each other.
“A lot of people think it’s nothing, just a cough. But it’s not ‘just a cough’,” Sigrid said. “I’ve only met one other person with chronic cough, so I’m looking forward to connecting with others through this program.”
I marvel at Betty White, as bubbly and zestful at 99 years old as she was half a century ago playing perky Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Lucky lady. Betty’s energy inspires me. We all need as much vitality as we can get as we age.
Everyone knows that genetics, exercise and healthy eating are crucial components of aging well. But now scientists have discovered a critical link between how and why we age and the health of the 30 trillion cells in our bodies. Giving us energy and strength, as well as supporting our immunity and overall well being, our cellular processes deteriorate with each passing birthday. We tire more easily, become weaker, have reduced mobility and stamina and are more susceptible to disease.
Known as Age-Associated Cellular Decline (AACD), the way we feel is connected to a time-related deterioration in the way our cells function that begins in our 40s and accelerates in our 60s. This journey progresses at different rates for everyone.
But here’s excellent news: Scientists at Nestlé Health Science have figured out that nourishing our cells with targeted cellular nutrients can help renew and restore our declining cellular processes.And they’ve created CelltrientTM Cellular Nutrition, a line of supplements and beveragesto help manage how our cells perform as we age. Celltrient is the first and only brand that addresses more than one of the causes of AACD through a range of targeted cellular nutrients, GlyNAC, Urolithin A and Nicotinamide Riboside.
Celltrient Cellular Energyfeatures Nicotinamide Riboside (NR), a unique form of vitamin B3 or niacin, that can help our cells replenish an important molecule for energy production, Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+). NAD+ is essential because it allows our cells to convert the fats, proteins and carbohydrates we eat into the energy we need to function every day. Research shows that NAD+ levels decline by up to 50 percent when we’re between the ages of 40 and 60.
Even if we do cardio and weight-bearing exercises, consume a diet of nutritious whole foods, get adequate sleep, and stay away from smoking and drinking, our NAD+levels decline as we age. “This can begin as early as our 40s and a shortfall of NAD+ can be a reason we feel less peppy and have less stamina when we’re in our 60s,” said Dr. Noelle Reid, a holistic family medicine physician in Los Angeles.
The NR in Celltrient Cellular Energy does its job deep inside our cells to help revitalize their natural processes, Dr. Reid explained. The level of NAD+ increases, typically within two weeks, and is sustained as long as you continue taking the supplement. Available in powder that can be mixed with most any cold beverage, the product also includes six different B vitamins, to help support energy metabolism.
If you’re already taking niacin, vitamin B3 and other B vitamins, consider tryingCelltrient Cellular Energy because it’s a unique formula and will have a greater impact on your NAD+ levels, Dr. Reid added.
PROTECTING YOUR CELLS
Now is the most important time to protect your cells. We’ve heard countless times during the last year that the older we are, the more susceptible we are to illness. Just as NAD+ declines in our cells affects our level of energy, a reduction of the antioxidant glutathione in our cells makes us more vulnerable to disease as we age. “Glutathione protects ourcells from external toxins that enter our body through food, water, air, or physical contact with skin,” Dr. Reid said. It also helps protect cells from damage caused by environmental factors, including cigarette smoke, air pollutants and industrial chemicals.
Take care of the cells that take care of you with Celltrient Cellular Protect
Less glutathione can mean less protection for our immune cells. Celltrient Cellular Protectfeatures a blend of amino acids, Glycine and N-Acetyl Cysteine (GlyNAC), that are the building blocks for glutathione, the master antioxidant we need for our overall cellular protection. It’s available in convenient mix-ins and capsule forms.
Strenuous exercise might tire us out when we’re young, but it can leave us gasping for breath and achy all over as we age, especially when we don’t consistently use our muscles. When we’re older our overall strength is impacted by the combination of reduced muscle mass and energy production in our skeletal muscle cells.
Celltrient Cellular Strength provides our muscle cells with the nutrient Urolithin A (UA), which helps cells renew their power plants and promote healthy muscle function. “Cellular Strength complements our daily exercise routines and gives our cells an extra boost,” Dr. Reid stressed.
“My journey with cellular nutrients began about four years ago, when I started taking an NR supplement. My signature high energy seemed to be decreasing, and the science behind NR impressed me,” said Geri Brin, editor of FabOverFifty.com, a lifestyle website for women. “I don’t have a scintilla of doubt that NR helped me maintain the level of energy I’ve always enjoyed. When Celltrient recently launched, I switched to Celltrient Cellular Energy because I like its additional B vitamins and that I can mix the powder into a glass of cold sparkling water,” Geri added. “I’m also planning to add Celltrient Cellular Protect to my regimen.
“It’s exciting to benefit from the advances in nutritional science that are helping us to redefine the way we manage our health.”
For more information, please visit Celltrient.com, where you can find out which Celltrient products are right for you. Use code FABFIFTY10 for 10% off your first purchase.
Millions of post-menopausal women have vulvar and vaginal atrophy (VVA), which comes from the loss of estrogen stimulation on the sensitive tissue in these areas. About 30 million women, as a matter of fact, may suffer from symptoms including pain during intercourse, vaginal dryness and vaginal irritation, according to the National Institutes of Health.
If you’re one of these women, Fairhaven Health would like you to try its newSage Personal Moisturizer and Lubricant, a non-prescription formula that can provide temporary relief from vaginal dryness.
Simply fill out the form below to receive your gratis tube.
Four reasons you absolutely want to try Sage Personal Moisturizer and Lubricant:
A clear gel, Sage is neither unpleasantly thick and gooey or so runny that you wouldn’t want to use it during the day. Its fluidity will increase comfort and pleasure during intimacy, but the formula will stay put and work for longer.
Sagesupplements natural moisture in the vagina and provides temporary relief from vaginal dryness during intercourse or daily. Estrogen drives natural production of vaginal fluid, so as estrogen decreases during menopause, natural moisture declines. Sage safely mimics natural moisture and feels as natural as possible.
Sage is water based – without paraben preservatives – which is acknowledged to be best for menopause-related vaginal dryness. It includes clary sage, a botanical with natural antibacterial properties
pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a scale of 0 to 14. A healthy vagina has a pH between 4 and 5 – similar to that of wine – which makes it naturally acidic. Sage has a pH of around 5, which is considered healthy for women as they age.
Complete this form to receive your gratis tube of Sage Personal Moisturizer and Lubricant. Giveaway ends on Monday, March 8th, 2021.
I might be the only woman on the planet who isn’t embarrassed to admit that I have incontinence.
I completely understand if you don’t want to discuss it. But, if you’re one of the 43 percent of women 50 to 64 years old, or 50 percent over 65, I think you’ll want to enter our giveaway for Femaxeen, a new plant-based food supplement that recently hit the market.
Femaxeen is formulated with a proprietary cocktail of ingredients that work together to help the bladder function properly and support lower urinary tract health. It’s effective on stress incontinence as well as on urge incontinence associated with an overactive bladder.
I started taking Femaxeen two months ago and should start to see a marked improvement in the next two months. We’re giving 25 ladies four boxes each so the winners can see noticeable improvement, too. We may not be giving away Kelly handbags, but even a bag that costs $20K won’t impress your bladder.
FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW AND HAVE THE CHANCE TO GIVE YOUR BLADDER A REST. GIVEAWAY ENDS WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2021
If I was dating, I probably wouldn’t tell a new man about my condition, but otherwise I’m upfront: I have incontinence. How can you ever hope to solve your problems if you keep them to yourself? Happily, the folks who are marketing an exciting new drug-free incontinence treatment invited me to try it after they read one of my blogs. More on that in a moment.
Chances are pretty good that you also have incontinence, along with 43 percent of women 50 to 64 years old and 50 percent over 65. Yet, only about one-third of us talk to our doctors, and continue to suffer in silence. If you’re one of the embarrassed non-talkers, please learn from my experience and hopefully you’ll get relief, too.
After taking a popular incontinence drug for years, I abruptly stopped in 2017 when I read that it increased my risk for dementia. I’d rather lose complete control of my bladder than my mind! I refused to take another popular drug instead since that one would increase my risk for high blood pressure, among other side effects. My pressure is normal. So, I began wearing special padded underwear. Function over glamour, ladies!
Femaxeen, the new plant-based food supplement that recently hit the market, seemed promising. Seventy-six (of 81) participants in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study reported “statistically significant improvements” in their incontinence after taking the supplement for 90 days. (Note: Three participants didn’t follow up; and ‘treatment’ wasn’t started in two placebo patients.)
The supplement is formulated with a proprietary cocktail of ingredients that work together to help the bladder function properly and support lower urinary tract health. “Femaxeen is effective on stress incontinence as well as on urge incontinence associated with an overactive bladder (OAB),” said Oscar del Cid, whose company – DNA Biopharm – distributes it in the United States. Monaco-based Axeen Pharma produces Femaxeen. I wasn’t on a date with Oscar, so I talked freely about my bladder.
“Before taking Femaxeen, i didn’t have a sex life. I was like Niagra Falls at night. Thank you for changing that.” – Rhonda D.
A QUICK LESSON IN BLADDER HEALTH
If you’re not versed in the types of bladder issues, here’s a quick lesson.
Stress urinary incontinenceis the involuntary loss of urine during physical activity, such as coughing, laughing or lifting. This happens when the pelvic floor muscles that support the urethra (the tube carrying urine out of the body) and the urinary sphincter muscle (controlling the flow of urine from the bladder) are weakened or damaged by events including menopause, childbirth, trauma and hysterectomy. (I fit into all but the trauma category.) Of the approximate 18 million people affected, women represent 85 percent.
OAB is a sudden, strong and frequent need to urinateoccuring when the smooth muscle in the bladder wall (detrusor) destabilizes and involuntarily contracts while the bladder is storing urine. A normal detrusor muscle will relax during the storage phase and will contract when we pee. OAB may be associated with urine leakage if you can’t get to the bathroom in time. Approximately 13 million women are affected by OAB with incontinence. The exact cause is unknown, but it’s thought that risk factors include vaginal birth delivery, age, obesity and chronic constipation.
“I had to call you. For the first time in over 10 years I wore skimpier shorts because I didn’t have to hide my diaper.” – Donna B.
Our urinary system does its job well when muscles and nerves work together to hold urine in the bladder and then release it at the right time. Nerves carry messages back and forth between the bladder and the brain to signal when the bladder is full and tell muscles when to tighten or release. If these nerves don’t work properly, your bladder won’t either.
Made from UriCyTonin®AFU&I, an exclusive blend of purified pollens extracted from a flower found in Sweden, Femaxeen works with nerves and muscles to support bladder health. The formula also includes pumpkin seed extract for the health of the pelvic floor muscles that control urine flow, and Vitamin E to help protect cells against oxidative stress.
I’ve been taking one Femaxeen tablet daily for the last month – with absolutely no side effects – and can expect to see a marked improvement in my incontinence after about four months, Oscar told me. The results will take longer for women with more severe incontinence, he added. “Many of us want to see results overnight, but the benefits of the formula build up over time,” Oscar stressed. “It’s important to be patient. The outcome will be worth it,” he added.
To inspire us to keep taking Femaxeen, even if we don’t see an improvement as fast as we’d like, Oscar is giving every woman who purchases one or two boxes an equal number of gratis boxes. Shipping and returns are free, too.
If you’re a woman somewhere between your mid 40s and late 50s, have started to sense strange changes in your body, or see and feel actual changes, you need one thing above most everything else: The opportunity to learn what’s happening to your body, what you can do to relieve your physical and emotional turmoil during your midlife transition and a plan for your lifelong health.
Perhaps you’ve developed heart palpitations. Or you suddenly can’t sleep. Maybe you’re running to pee more often. Or gained five pounds even though you haven’t changed your eating habits one iota. Besides feeling completely unsexy, you even feel discomfort while you’re having sex.
You’ve trusted your GP for years, but he or she either says your concerns “are normal and will pass,” tells you to exercise and eat less, or sends you to a cardiologist and urologist. So now you’re taking medication for high blood pressure or cholesterol, but still feel like a hot mess and desperately need to know if there’s anything else you can do to feel better.
The gynecologist you’ve been using for decades doesn’t offer any solutions, either. You feel like you’re losing your mind.
↓↓Sign up below to reserve a spot at Dr. Seibel’s Gratis Master Class in Menopause
Your Great Internist Probably Isn’t A Menopause Expert
Truth is, there are excellent internists and excellent gynecologists – and yours might well be among them – but that doesn’t automatically make them experts in the area of menopause.
That’s because an entire generation of practitioners was never properly trained on the symptoms and health risks of menopause and how to treat menopausal women. This disservice to their health links back to a 2002 report on a landmark health study that falsely claimed menopausal women on hormone replacement therapy are at increased risk for stroke, heart disease and dementia.
Sadly, the havoc wreaked on the healthcare of these women by that report lingers on two decades later – despite the subsequent revelation that the study analysis was flawed.
Mistreated and misinformed, a majority of menopausal women, and those who will join them every year, don’t know where to turn for help.
Chances are, you’re one of these women. And you shouldn’t have to fight to feel better. It should be your right.
You can read any one of the scores of books on menopause, which might be good for general information on the subject. But no book, no matter how well done, can help you interpret what’s going on in your unique body.
A Master Class From a Real Menopause Master
Dr. Mache Seibel has written one of these books – The Estrogen Fix: The Breakthrough Guide to Being Healthy, Energized, and Hormonally Balanced. And, he’s a member of the Harvard Medical School Faculty. Dr. Seibel would love you to buy his book, of course, but even he acknowledges it’s no substitute for talking directly to a menopause specialist about your body.
Zoom in on Menopause With Dr. Seibel
You can have a one-on-one online consultation with Dr. Seibel to help you understand your issues and become a partner in your own health care. Once empowered with knowledge, you can take the steps necessary to improve how you feel and move into this phase of your life with confidence.
But more on Dr. Seibel’s menopause coaching sessions another time. We want to give you the opportunity to meet him first and get his compelling overview of the impact of menopause on a woman’s body.
I’ve had the pleasure to get to know Dr. Seibel and I assure you that what you hear from him will be one of the most important lessons of your life. For your life. We’ll also have time for a Q and A after his talk.
Sign up here. Sign up now.
Fill in the form below to reserve a place at Dr. Mache Seibel’s gratis
Life Line Screening compensated FOF with an advertising sponsorship to write this post. Regardless, I started having its health screenings years before this, and I only recommend products or services that I believe will benefit others. Geri Brin, Founder, faboverfifty.com
Now more than ever, it’s critical to know your risk for Cardiovascular Disease
I’m concerned about being part of a high-risk group if I get the virus that’s turned our world upside down. And, at 73, my lungs and my heart could be even more vulnerable to harm if I had problems before COVID-19 became part of my vocabulary. While lung injury and respiratory problems took center stage as the most frightening complications of COVID-19, Cardiovascular Disease is another.
Alarming facts: About 10 percent of patients with pre-existing Cardiovascular Disease who contract COVID-19 will die, compared with only 1 percent of patients who are otherwise healthy, according to an article in the health blog from Harvard Medical School.
Unfortunately, the absence of symptoms doesn’t mean you’re absolutely free of Cardiovascular Disease. This new viral infection, fever, and inflammation can destabilize heart vessel blockages you didn’t even know you had. This makes it imperative for anyone in the high-risk group to take ownership of your health and do everything you possibly can to avoid hospitalizations by eating right, exercising and getting screened for stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Even without the risks associated with COVID-19, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Now that you’re moving around a bit more freely, one of the first tasks on your agenda should be to understand your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Life Line Screening makes it easy by offering a special package of five preventative screening tests: 1) Atrial fibrillation or AFIB, a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clot, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.2) Peripheral arterial disease, a circulatory condition in which blood vessels narrowed by plaque reduce blood flow to the limbs. P.A.D. usually affects the arteries in the legs, but it also can affect the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your head, arms, kidneys, and stomach. Peripheral artery disease may be an indication that plaque is also present in other areas of the body.3) Plaque in the carotid arteries,which are the two large blood vessels on each side of the neck that supply oxygenated blood to the brain, neck and face. The carotid artery narrows and affects blood flow to the brain when it becomes clogged with plaque, and complications can be serious. If any of the plaque breaks off, it can block the blood flow to the brain completely, causing a stroke. Plaque in the arteries can develop over time without causing a singly symptom. 4) Abdominal aortic aneurysm,a bulging, weakened area in the wall of the aorta, which is the largest artery in the body. Over time, the blood vessel balloons and is at risk for bursting or tearing, which can cause life- threatening bleeding and potentially death. 5) Osteoporosis, a loss of bone density or mass.
Life Line has provided preventive screening to millions for 25 years – and at remarkably fair fees – precisely what convinced me to first have its tests in 2010.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In response to COVID-19, Lifeline is taking precautions to protect its customers and employees by following all CDC, state and local guidelines for cleanliness, personal protective equipment and social distancing. Masks are required for everyone; appointments are limited, and temperatures are taken prior to entering a facility.
Life Line Warned Me. I Didn’t Listen
I wasn’t overly concerned when I learned my right carotid artery had mild fatty plaque since it wasn’t a dire threat to my health, at least not immediately. Uncharacteristically, I dismissed the report recommendation to follow up with my doctor, too preoccupied with launching this website at the time. I felt good and had no signs of a problem. My weight was reasonable. I exercised. Didn’t smoke or drink.
My blasé attitude had troubling consequences.
By last year, my weight had spun out of control, I was working out less, and a new ultrasound showed a dramatic increase in the plaque. Now the bad stuff was narrowing the right carotid artery somewhere between 59 and 80 percent. That got my attention, even if there wasn’t a single symptom. If a piece of plaque broke off and blocked the blood flow, I could have a stroke. To make matters worse, my cholesterol numbers were dismal. My doctor started me on statin therapy right away to lower my cholesterol, told me to lose weight, start exercising again, and to take low-dose baby aspirin every day.
Ironically, most doctors won’t recommend screenings for carotid artery or peripheral arterial disease for asymptomatic patients with no family history of stroke or heart attack. What’s more, Medicare doesn’t cover the tests unless someone has experienced symptoms. Without coverage, it’s costly to have tests like this done at a hospital. The United States health system isn’t a shining example of how to practice preventive medicine.
Having no reason to suspect any cardiovascular problems a decade ago, I actually arranged for the first ultrasound through Life Line Screening as a preventive measure. When the original results showed mild plaque, it should have been fair warning not to let myself go. After all, that’s what preventive health care means. That’s what makes Life Line a smart idea.
The Life Line Screening Difference
When Life Line recently contacted me about introducing its screening service to my FOFriends, I didn’t hesitate. After all, they discovered the plaque in my carotid artery at an early stage, not to mention early bone loss, and suggested that I see my own doctor. Pretty foolish not to heed their advice. “Every day we find people across the country with significant carotid artery and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Keith Coffee, Chief Medical Officer at Life Line.
Only $149 For All Five Screenings
“We discovered about 62K overall health risks in 2017 alone,” Dr. Coffee said. A team of highly qualified, board-certified radiologists throughout the country, led by a vascular surgeon, reads all ultrasound images as well as the electrocardiograms for AFIB.
“These are screenings, not diagnostic tests,” Dr. Coffee stressed. “We encourage patients to share their results with their doctors so they can together discuss the appropriate treatment, if necessary.” (Remember, that’s what I didn’t do!) Life Line doesn’t have physicians available who can discuss the test results with patients, and it doesn’t interact with patients’ physicians. They do provide a summary of the results that you can share with your doctor. “We simply provide the incentive for patients to take the right steps for their health,” Dr. Coffee noted.
If Life Line Screening discovers a life threatening condition, however, such as an aneurysm that’s about to rupture, it will send someone right to the ER and call for an ambulance if they wish. “Our customers tell us that we’ve possibly saved their lives. We get letters all the time from people who had no symptoms and thought they were just fine, but were at risk for having a large aneurysm about the rupture,” Dr. Coffee said.
In and Out In 90 Minutes Or Less
Life Line serves 60 cities across the country each day. Teams at the screening sites include at least two ultrasound stenographers who hold certificates in ultrasound technology, and two medical assistants who are cross trained to perform tests including electrocardiograms for heart rhythm, fingerstick blood tests, and peripheral pulses. A nurse practitioner joins most of the teams to see people 65+ years old for Annual Wellness Visits, which are covered under Medicare.
While most people opt for the basic, five-test package I described earlier, many decide to get their cholesterol and glucose checked during the same appointment, Dr. Coffee told me. Life Line Screening offers 15 preventive screening blood tests, including thyroid function, vitamin D, and hemoglobin A1C for diabetes. It also provides a take-home test for detection of colorectal cancer. A call center with 300 trained employees helps participants decide what tests are right for them, based on their age, risk factors and medical history.
Testing is done in churches, at community centers, fraternal organizations and occasionally in hotel ballrooms. When Life Line works with affiliates, such as hospitals, anyone with abnormal results is referred back to the hospital. It also offers exclusive screenings for employees of large corporations as part of their healthcare plans. “Our goal is to get people in and out in 60 to 90 minutes, which includes paperwork and waiting time,” Dr. Coffee said.
The Results Are In
A results package arrives in the mail about three weeks after your screening. It reports on every test you took and on your risk for stroke and cardiovascular disease in general, taking into account factors including smoking, high cholesterol and family history. “We give you all the information we can to help you make lifestyle changes and modifications if you need to,” Dr. Coffee explained. If a major issue such as AFIB is discovered, a Life Line representative will call you directly, rather than having you wait for the results package.
People generally have their first Life Line screenings at 50 years old. “We have patients in their 40s who just want to know where they fit healthwise, or maybe they have a family history of early strokes. And, we have people in their 90s,” Dr. Coffee said. Returning patients account for about half of Life Line’s annual screenings, and close to 90 percent of all patients have their own physicians.
Get preventive screenings once you’re age fifty, whether or not you have symptoms. And pay attention to what you learn.
This post was developed in collaboration with Lundbeck.
If it’s true that “not all heroes wear capes,” then those who care and advocate for loved ones are among those who best fulfill this adage.
One of the most strenuous and stressful roles one can play is caring for someone with a chronic condition. This situation becomes even more taxing when caring for someone with a lesser-known condition that takes years to diagnose, which was the case with MaryGail.
As the primary care partner for her father, Ralph, MaryGail and her father struggled to find an explanation for her father’s symptoms when he fell ill. In honor of National Caregivers Awareness Month, MaryGail shared her care partner story and her relentless pursuit to find answers and treatment for her father when she suspected that something wasn’t quite right.
The Early Signs
My dad was a construction foreman, always outside and working with his hands. He was also in the Navy and served his country during the Vietnam War. As most in the armed services would agree, you’re conditioned to be neat and tidy – and dad was the embodiment of this – from the clothes he wore to the way we kept our home. So, when I began noticing that he wasn’t keeping up with the house and was spending more time lying on the couch, I became concerned.
One day, as I was cleaning up, I found medication bottles for Parkinson’s disease (PD). When I confronted him about it, my father told me that he had been recently diagnosed with PD, but brushed it off like it was insignificant.
Soon after, he began talking to me about symptoms he was experiencing, specifically getting dizzy when standing up or feeling like he would pass out when getting out of bed. His symptoms were causing him to be leery of standing or walking, feeling much safer lying down and, unfortunately, that’s why he started spending more time on the couch and in bed. His condition was causing him to change his lifestyle out of fear.
I knew something wasn’t right. Yes, he had PD, but the symptoms he was experiencing just didn’t sit well with me. Over the course of the next few years, he was continuously in and out of hospitals and rehab centers. We talked to countless doctors. Cardiologists would say he needed to see a neurologist, and neurologists would argue it was a cardiac problem. No one seemed to agree or genuinely take the time to listen to my father.
After yet another trip to the emergency department, his neurologist decided that he didn’t have PD but, rather, a different neurodegenerative condition called multiple system atrophy. I had enough. None of what we were being told made sense. No one could explain their rationale to me or provide a straight answer, and I was asking all the important questions.
I decided to take matters into my own hands. As a care partner, sometimes you need to put your foot down and take control of the situation. My dad went through a spell of about three days where he was constantly sleeping and not getting out of bed. I was working in the healthcare field, so I asked my colleagues who had loved ones with Parkinson’s for their advice. One of the doctors informed me that I needed to get my dad to a neurologist who specialized in movement disorders.
Finally Finding Answers
After explaining his symptoms of being dizzy when he stood up and the feeling like he was going to black out, our new neurologist, who specialized in movement disorders, took his blood pressure readings in different positions, both lying down and standing up. This was the first time anyone had ever taken this approach.
The neurologist immediately knew what was going on after seeing his blood pressure readings. We were told that my dad did in fact of PD but also a separate, and manageable condition from PD called neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH), which often presents itself in patients with neurodegenerative conditions. Best of all, there was a medication that could help manage his symptoms, NORTHERA® (droxidopa). Please review the full Use for Northera and Important Safety Information below, including a boxed warning for Supine Hypertension.
What we learned was that nOH is a dysfunction in a person’s autonomic nervous system, which causes blood pressure to drop significantly when trying to stand or when changing positions, causing people to feel dizzy or lightheaded. For some, they feel like they’ll black out. Learning of nOH’s symptoms explained why he felt safer lying down and would constantly feel dizzy when he stood.
I had never felt more relieved to know that my father may not have to live the rest of his life experiencing the symptoms of nOH. Of course, NORTHERA might not be right for everyone, so I would encourage anyone to speak with their physician about treatment options that might be right for them.
This long journey has left me with three pieces of advice for anyone who is caring for a loved one and trying to find answers:
Be assertive. You know what is right for your loved one and what they need. Don’t be afraid to ask for it, there is nothing wrong with being firm.
Ask questions. A lot of them. There is no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to the health and safety of the person you are caring for. If you don’t feel comfortable with what you are being told, get a second or third opinion.
Trust your gut. At the end of the day, you are the one spending the most time with your loved one, observing them, and listening to how they are feeling. Sometimes you know best. Trust the feeling.
Caring for a loved one isn’t easy, but it’s an important and meaningful role, especially to the person for whom you are providing care. I often say “we” when I speak about my father’s diagnosis journey because even though he was the one being treated for nOH, we went through it together.
USE OF NORTHERA (droxidopa) CAPSULES (100 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg)
NORTHERA (droxidopa) is a prescription medication used to reduce dizziness, lightheadedness, or the “feeling that you are about to black out” in adults who experience a significant drop in blood pressure when changing positions or standing (called symptomatic neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH)) and who have one of the following:
− Parkinson’s disease (PD), a neurodegenerative disease that causes slowness in muscle movement as well as shaking in the hands
− Multiple system atrophy (MSA), a Parkinson’s-like disorder with more widespread effects on the brain and body
− Pure autonomic failure (PAF), a neurodegenerative disease that results in frequent drops in blood pressure upon standing
− Dopamine beta-hydroxylase deficiency, a condition where the body cannot make enough of the hormones that help regulate blood pressure
− Non-diabetic autonomic neuropathy, an inability to maintain blood pressure upon standing that can be caused by a number of rare diseases
Effectiveness beyond 2 weeks of treatment has not been established, and your doctor will decide if you should continue taking NORTHERA.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
WARNING: SUPINE HYPERTENSION (this is high blood pressure while lying down)
When lying down, elevating the head and upper body lowers the risk of high blood pressure. Check your blood pressure in this position prior to starting and during NORTHERA treatment. If you experience high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about your NORTHERA treatment.
Do not take NORTHERA if you have a known allergy to NORTHERA or its ingredients.
NORTHERA may cause high blood pressure when lying down, which could lead to strokes, heart attacks, and death. To reduce this risk of supine hypertension, take your late afternoon dose of NORTHERA at least 3 hours before going to bed.
Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a rare but potentially life-threatening side effect reported with NORTHERA. Call your doctor right away and go to the nearest emergency room if you develop these signs and symptoms: high fever, stiff muscles, movements that you cannot control, confusion or problems thinking, very fast or uneven heartbeats, or increased sweating. NORTHERA should be stopped immediately if NMS is diagnosed.
If you have coronary artery disease, irregular heartbeat, or heart failure, NORTHERA may worsen the symptoms of these disorders. Call your doctor if your symptoms become worse.
NORTHERA may cause allergic reactions. Stop taking NORTHERA and contact your doctor right away, or go to the nearest emergency room if you experience any signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction such as: fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, swelling, trouble breathing, hives, or rash. NORTHERA contains tartrazine (FD&C Yellow No. 5), which may also cause an allergic reaction, especially if you have had a reaction to aspirin.
The most common side effects with NORTHERA are headache, dizziness, nausea, and high blood pressure.
Taking NORTHERA with other medications may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if you take prescription or over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements.
You should not breastfeed during treatment with NORTHERA.
If you plan to become or are currently pregnant, talk to your doctor as it is notknown if NORTHERA could harm your unborn baby.
Take NORTHERA the same way each time, either with or without food.
If you miss a dose of NORTHERA, take your next dose at the regularly scheduled time. Do not double the dose