Read How Low Dose Aspirin Can Help Protect Your Heart & If It’s Right For You

FabOverFifty collaborated with St. Joseph® Low Dose Aspirin to create this post.  All insights and opinions are our own.

Please meet three close friends whom I’ve known for many years. I’ve changed their names, but these are their real stories as they’ve told me (and allowed me to share with you!).

Hannah, a divorced 55-year-old bookkeeper and writer, is slender, fit, and active. She occasionally enjoys a glass of wine, doesn’t smoke, and religiously watches her diet. Her blood pressure is normal, her cholesterol numbers are ideal, and her doctor’s examination and full panel blood test results confirmed that she’s in tip-top shape. Her family has no history of cardiovascular disease.

Rochelle, a married 69-year-old retired dietician, was 20 pounds overweight, with high blood pressure and dangerous cholesterol levels.  Although a scan revealed mild plaque in one of her carotid arteries, Rochelle hasn’t exhibited any symptoms of a stroke. (Note: Plaque consists of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood that can build up, harden and narrow your arteries over time, Carotid arteries are the major blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain, neck and face). Rochelle’s paternal and maternal grandfathers died of heart attacks at 66 and at 82. Rochelle recently lost about 20 pounds and she’s taking statins to regulate her cholesterol as well as blood pressure medication. She tries to walk vigorously at least three times a week, but isn’t an exercise enthusiast otherwise. She doesn’t drink or smoke.

Penny, a single 73-year-old manger in the education field, survived a major heart attack in late 2018 that prevented her from going to work for months. Although she was much heavier decades ago, she’d kept off most of the 50+ pounds she lost years before the attack. Penny’s blood pressure and cholesterol were also under control before the heart attack. She used to be a great fan of wine, but not of exercise. Her mother and father did not die of cardiovascular disease.

My story is similar to Rochelle’s: I was about 20 pounds overweight (but have lost 12 pounds during the last two months and intend to lose at least 15 more), I’m taking statins, and one of my carotid arteries has a more significant buildup of plaque than Rochelle’s, which puts me at greater risk for stroke. My cardiac calcium score indicates my coronary arteries have mild plaque. I don’t drink or smoke, and although I worked with a trainer for years I stopped about six months ago. I know that for my health, I must start exercising regularly again.

Here’s why I’m telling you all this: Each of these stories is different – and your personal story may be different, too! But no matter what your story, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your heart health to find a care plan that’s suitable for you. Although neither Rochelle nor I have suffered a heart attack, like Penny, or a stroke (think of it as a brain attack), each of us discussed our risk factors with our doctors to determine if it would be appropriate to start a low dose aspirin regimen. And, based on their assessments, we are taking one low dose aspirin (81 mg) every day – for different reasons for our cardiovascular health, as well as focusing on a healthy diet. The low dose aspirin will help prevent another heart attack in Penny’s case and a first-time stroke or heart attack for me and Rochelle.

Our doctors’ recommendations about low dose aspirin adhere to the updated Guidelines on the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA).

The doctors quoted in this story were given overviews of my friends’ stories, and did not evaluate them personally.

Although not a universal approach for all, according to Dr. Nieca Goldberg, Medical Director, Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health and Women’s Heart Program at NYU Langone Health, “Taking aspirin following a heart attack or other cardiovascular event will reduce a person’s risk of recurrence by about 25 percent, provided it’s part of a treatment program that includes blood pressure medication and statins if needed, and exercise and diet. “We call the regimen ‘secondary prevention,’” she explained.

But–and this is a crucial but–low dose aspirin is also recommended for women with arterial plaque like Rochelle and I, added Dr. Goldberg. Considering one in three women dies from heart disease, taking aspirin could be a life-saving step for women at risk.

Make sure to speak to your doctor about your overall health and the potential benefits of a daily low dose aspirin for YOU. Please don’t start, stop or change an existing regimen until you’ve consulted with him or her.

Understanding how low dose aspirin works to reduce the risk of a first or second heart attack

When you cut your finger in the kitchen or gash your leg at the ice skating rink, sticky cells in your blood–called platelets or clotting cells, combined with other processes in your blood—come together to stop the flow of blood and repair the damage. That’s good. But blood clots can also form in arteries that supply our heart or brain. That’s bad!  If the plaque in my carotid artery became fragile and ruptured, for instance, the platelets would rush to the scene and clump together to form a clot.  The combination of the clot and the plaque could obstruct and completely halt blood flow in the artery that feeds my brain, and it could lead to a stroke. If the clot were to block a blood vessel feeding my heart, it would cause a heart attack.  

Low dose aspirin works by reducing the ability of platelets to stick together and form a blood clot that could clog an artery and trigger a heart attack or stroke in individuals who have already experienced such an event, or a first attack for someone at risk.

Lest you think we forgot about my pal Hannah, we didn’t. Dr. Goldberg explained that at this stage she doesn’t need low dose aspirin for two big reasons: She hasn’t experienced a cardiovascular event, and she’s at low risk for having one. “Aspirin wouldn’t lower her already low risk for heart disease,” she added. “Even if a woman like Hannah had [has] mildly elevated cholesterol, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend low dose aspirin if she also has no family history of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bender, a prominent cardiologist with Yale School of Medicine. She also had no other risk factors.

 

As you can tell by these stories, everyone is different. Whether you’re like me or any of my three friends, make sure to speak to your doctor about your potential risks and the potential benefits of a daily low dose aspirin regimen for YOU. Please don’t start, stop or change an existing regimen until you’ve consulted with your doctor. And pass on what you’ve learned to your loved ones with similar health concerns to make sure they are aware and talk to their doctor. St. Joseph® Low Dose Aspirin, the low dose aspirin our mothers relied on when we were kids, is committed to helping us all maintain healthy hearts as we age.

When it comes to loving your heart, talk to your doctor and know you can always pluck St. Joseph right off the shelf at all major retailers. Capture this coupon first. 

Mary Lou Retton Flips Over One Menopause Supplement

Brought to you and sponsored by Amberen

Who can forget Mary Lou Retton’s gymnastic performance at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, CA? Her breathtaking vaults. Her perfect 10s. The first American woman to win the all-around gold medal, she captured our hearts with her boundless exuberance and infectious smile.

                           Mary Lou Retton

I hadn’t followed Mary Lou’s career closely, but I came across her in a TV commercial the other day, talking openly about menopause. It got my attention that she wasn’t just talking about hot flashes and night sweats, but was describing a combination of symptoms—most of all low energy—that had left her constantly feeling sluggish. The worst part, she explained, was thinking that her signature vitality was a thing of the past. 

Mary Lou hadn’t just accepted the change. She’d tried solution after solution to no avail, until finally someone recommended a supplement called Amberen for multi-symptom relief. Unlike many menopause supplements Mary Lou had heard about, Amberen was different. It wasn’t an herb, nor did it contain soy or caffeine or gluten. She tried it, and it worked! After taking Amberen for 30 days, her energy returned. Her hot flashes subsided, and the quality of her sleep improved dramatically. She felt like her true self again, busy living life. The old Mary Lou was back.

>>Click here to get your $10 Amberen Walmart Coupon

CLINCHING THE CLINICAL TRIALS 

After hearing Mary Lou’s personal story I wanted to learn more. As the editor of a website trusted by women 45+, I only recommend health products like this that are backed by solid studies attesting to their effectiveness. Mary Lou’s testimonial was powerful, but I needed further proof. 

These important studies showed that women who used Amberen for 30 to 90 days experienced safe and effective relief for 12 menopause symptoms*, with no adverse side effects reported.** While many supplements only address 2 or 3 symptoms, Amberen treats the gamut! Look at these impressive outcomes for four symptoms that most often trouble women during menopause, and sometimes for a decade more.

91%   had reduced hot flashes*

78%   had reduced night sweats*

80%   had reduced mood swings*

87%   had less difficulty sleeping*

What’s more, 77% of the women in the clinical trials had more energy* so, like Mary Lou, they could resume their active lives.

Based on all the positive data, it’s not surprising that Amberen is the #1 selling menopause relief supplement in the United States. At this point, I had no hesitation about recommending it to my FabOverFifty friends. When the folks at Amberen offered me the chance to talk to Mary Lou about her menopause journey, I jumped at it.

TALKING WITH MARY LOU

It’s easy to understand why so many fans look up to Mary Lou, who is now 51. She’s humble, and she’s unafraid to be herself. “Was low energy really your worst symptom?” I asked her.

“Having a hot flash when I was speaking in public was hard,” she said. “It’s even more difficult worrying and waiting for it to happen. But yes, for me, dealing with low energy was hardest.”

“Because it impacted everything you did?”

“Everything! From work to affecting my relationship with my daughters. Just grocery shopping was hard. My energy was part of my identity and I felt like it was slipping away. I didn’t realize low energy was a menopause symptom until I discovered Amberen. And then it was a revelation because suddenly it was no longer this inevitable thing. It was something I could control.”

“And now?”

“Thanks to Amberen, my energy is back. It helped my moods, my night sweats, my headaches, all my symptoms. I’m currently at the end of a 90-day course, then I will take a month break and will start taking it again to manage my symptoms. My life now, in many ways, is better than when I was younger. Menopause doesn’t bother me anymore since I found Amberen.”*

>>Click here to get your $10 Amberen Walmart Coupon

UNDERSTANDING THE AMBEREN DIFFERENCE 

As we age, decreases in our estrogen levels make us susceptible to a range of symptoms, including “vasomotor disturbances,” which is a fancy way of saying hot flashes, night sweats, flushing and more. Likewise, we lose energy, as Mary Lou did.

These hormone imbalances occur because of a breakdown in communication between the brain’s hypothalamus (which controls hormone regulation) and our hormone-producing organs, such as our ovaries. Unlike other menopause supplements, Amberen’s unique formula of antioxidants, amino acids, minerals and vitamin E, works by supporting the hypothalamus to improve this communication. That way our ovaries know when to produce more estrogen and when not to. Put simply, Amberen helps relieve so many symptoms by helping to restore your hormonal balance. 

THANK YOU MARY LOU!

Before saying goodbye, Mary Lou asked me to convey a message to my readers.  

“I want to make a difference in women’s lives. I want my daughters to be aware of menopause, so they’ll be able to deal with it successfully. I want women to know that menopause can span over many years and doesn’t necessarily start with hot flashes, but can be a combination of symptoms that can change your life. That’s why it’s so important to look for clues that your body is sending and to get relief, especially in the early stages. I put my name behind Amberen because women deserve the relief this great product provides. I feel fab over fifty, thanks to Amberen. I’m proud of my age. We all should be!”

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR

_____________________________________

The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

◊ Mary Lou Retton is a paid spokesperson for Amberen.

*Individual results will vary. Mary Lou Retton’s testimonial is based on results after 30 days of use and after continuing to use Amberen for 90 days. Every woman’s experience with Amberen will be unique. Amberen’s 12 menopausal symptom relief benefits are supported by the results of two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, human clinical trials, involving 102 and 125 menopausal women, aged 42-60 years, with mild to moderate menopausal symptoms over the course of 90 days.

**No adverse side effects were observed during clinical studies. Caution: Amberen is not intended for use by pregnant or nursing women. Do not take if you have severe hypertension. If you are taking prescription medication or have any medical condition, consult your doctor before use. Discontinue use and consult your doctor if you have any adverse reaction.

≠IRI US MULO 52 wks 3.24.19 by UPC.

Mary Lou Retton Flips Over One Menopause Supplement

Brought to you and sponsored by Amberen

Who can forget Mary Lou Retton’s gymnastic performance at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, CA? Her breathtaking vaults. Her perfect 10s. The first American woman to win the all-around gold medal, she captured our hearts with her boundless exuberance and infectious smile.

                           Mary Lou Retton

I hadn’t followed Mary Lou’s career closely, but I came across her in a TV commercial the other day, talking openly about menopause. It got my attention that she wasn’t just talking about hot flashes and night sweats, but was describing a combination of symptoms—most of all low energy—that had left her constantly feeling sluggish. The worst part, she explained, was thinking that her signature vitality was a thing of the past. 

Mary Lou hadn’t just accepted the change. She’d tried solution after solution to no avail, until finally someone recommended a supplement called Amberen for multi-symptom relief. Unlike many menopause supplements Mary Lou had heard about, Amberen was different. It wasn’t an herb, nor did it contain soy or caffeine or gluten. She tried it, and it worked! After taking Amberen for 30 days, her energy returned. Her hot flashes subsided, and the quality of her sleep improved dramatically. She felt like her true self again, busy living life. The old Mary Lou was back.

 

CLINCHING THE CLINICAL TRIALS 

After hearing Mary Lou’s personal story I wanted to learn more. As the editor of a website trusted by women 45+, I only recommend health products like this that are backed by solid studies attesting to their effectiveness. Mary Lou’s testimonial was powerful, but I needed further proof. 

These important studies showed that women who used Amberen for 30 to 90 days experienced safe and effective relief for 12 menopause symptoms*, with no adverse side effects reported.** While many supplements only address 2 or 3 symptoms, Amberen treats the gamut! Look at these impressive outcomes for four symptoms that most often trouble women during menopause, and sometimes for a decade more.

91%   had reduced hot flashes*

78%   had reduced night sweats*

80%   had reduced mood swings*

87%   had less difficulty sleeping*

What’s more, 77% of the women in the clinical trials had more energy* so, like Mary Lou, they could resume their active lives.

Based on all the positive data, it’s not surprising that Amberen is the #1 selling menopause relief supplement in the United States. At this point, I had no hesitation about recommending it to my FabOverFifty friends. When the folks at Amberen offered me the chance to talk to Mary Lou about her menopause journey, I jumped at it.

TALKING WITH MARY LOU

It’s easy to understand why so many fans look up to Mary Lou, who is now 51. She’s humble, and she’s unafraid to be herself. “Was low energy really your worst symptom?” I asked her.

“Having a hot flash when I was speaking in public was hard,” she said. “It’s even more difficult worrying and waiting for it to happen. But yes, for me, dealing with low energy was hardest.”

“Because it impacted everything you did?”

“Everything! From work to affecting my relationship with my daughters. Just grocery shopping was hard. My energy was part of my identity and I felt like it was slipping away. I didn’t realize low energy was a menopause symptom until I discovered Amberen. And then it was a revelation because suddenly it was no longer this inevitable thing. It was something I could control.”

“And now?”

“Thanks to Amberen, my energy is back. It helped my moods, my night sweats, my headaches, all my symptoms. I’m currently at the end of a 90-day course, then I will take a month break and will start taking it again to manage my symptoms. My life now, in many ways, is better than when I was younger. Menopause doesn’t bother me anymore since I found Amberen.”*

>>Available at Costco.com & Your Local Warehouse. Click here to learn more.

UNDERSTANDING THE AMBEREN DIFFERENCE 

As we age, decreases in our estrogen levels make us susceptible to a range of symptoms, including “vasomotor disturbances,” which is a fancy way of saying hot flashes, night sweats, flushing and more. Likewise, we lose energy, as Mary Lou did.

These hormone imbalances occur because of a breakdown in communication between the brain’s hypothalamus (which controls hormone regulation) and our hormone-producing organs, such as our ovaries. Unlike other menopause supplements, Amberen’s unique formula of antioxidants, amino acids, minerals and vitamin E, works by supporting the hypothalamus to improve this communication. That way our ovaries know when to produce more estrogen and when not to. Put simply, Amberen helps relieve so many symptoms by helping to restore your hormonal balance. 

THANK YOU MARY LOU!

Before saying goodbye, Mary Lou asked me to convey a message to my readers.  

“I want to make a difference in women’s lives. I want my daughters to be aware of menopause, so they’ll be able to deal with it successfully. I want women to know that menopause can span over many years and doesn’t necessarily start with hot flashes, but can be a combination of symptoms that can change your life. That’s why it’s so important to look for clues that your body is sending and to get relief, especially in the early stages. I put my name behind Amberen because women deserve the relief this great product provides. I feel fab over fifty, thanks to Amberen. I’m proud of my age. We all should be!”

Available at Costco.com & Your Local Warehouse

_____________________________________

The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

◊ Mary Lou Retton is a paid spokesperson for Amberen.

*Individual results will vary. Mary Lou Retton’s testimonial is based on results after 30 days of use and after continuing to use Amberen for 90 days. Every woman’s experience with Amberen will be unique. Amberen’s 12 menopausal symptom relief benefits are supported by the results of two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, human clinical trials, involving 102 and 125 menopausal women, aged 42-60 years, with mild to moderate menopausal symptoms over the course of 90 days.

**No adverse side effects were observed during clinical studies. Caution: Amberen is not intended for use by pregnant or nursing women. Do not take if you have severe hypertension. If you are taking prescription medication or have any medical condition, consult your doctor before use. Discontinue use and consult your doctor if you have any adverse reaction.

≠IRI US MULO 52 wks 3.24.19 by UPC.

Persona Personalized Supplement Winners Give The Program “A”Assessments

Most of us absolutely require nutritional supplements as we age, for everything from sleep issues and brain fog to digestion and decreased energy. But, it’s downright bewildering and annoying to hear the constantly changing and contradictory reports about what’s beneficial, and what’s not!

Persona is a new online supplement service that makes it super simple to get personalized, doctor-approved vitamin recommendations (its Chief Medical Officer is Dr. Michael Roizen from the renowned Cleveland Clinic). Premium supplements are delivered right to your house in convenient daily packets with instructions when to take each one. And, they’re 30 percent less than other premium brands. Brilliant!

Two FOFs recently won three-month supplies of Persona personalized supplements: Michelle Price is 54 years old, from West Allis, WI. “I just turned 54 and I’m trying to be over all healthier. I have tried a variety of different vitamins and I’m looking for the right ones for me,” Michelle wrote when she entered the giveaway. 

Freya Paccione, from Brooklyn, NY, is about to turn 44. “Ever since I had a minor health scare last summer, I’ve been very interested in vitamin supplements but I’m a bit overwhelmed by all of the choices available. I would love for the process to be simplified and have exactly what I need to take every day,” Freya said. 

Learn what they thought about their Persona experiences. 

What did you think of the 5-minute assessment that helped Persona determine which vitamins you’d need? 

Freya “It was pretty thorough and I actually enjoyed filling it out.” 

Michelle “Easy and it took very little time.” 

Did you feel that the recommendations addressed your concerns? 

F “Absolutely! The recommendations were spot on and I’m very satisfied with them. I really appreciate that Persona also offers recommendations for additional vitamins/supplements that would be beneficial to me and I have the option to add them to my monthly pack without having to worry about any interactions.”

M “Very much so.”

How was the experience receiving the supplements?

F “Excellent!  I received my first shipment rather quickly (via FedEx) and I was so impressed with the packaging! I keep the box right on my kitchen counter so I’ll never forget to take my vitamins. The box is very compact and I love how it dispenses the packs!”

M They were delivered USPS directly to my door.” 

Did you get enough background info on the contents of the pack and how it would benefit you? 

F “Yes! I really appreciate the information, which is easy to understand. Everything comes inside a  professional-looking folder with my name on it.”

M “Yes, actually I was given more info than I expected.” 

Did you find the packs convenient? 

F “Very convenient! I’d been wanting to add more vitamins and supplements to my health regimen but I was overwhelmed by all of the choices on the market so I ended up settling for a basic women’s multivitamin but felt as if it wasn’t enough for my needs, which is why I’m so happy to have found Persona!” 

M Yes. I don’t have to put any thought into my vitamins now. All I have to do is grab my morning pack and begin my day and my evening pack at the end of the day.” 

Do you travel with the packets during the day or take them only at home? 

F “I mostly take them at home but there have been instances where I’d have to take a pack or two with me.”

M Yes, I take them to work with me.” 

If you had concerns about sleep, energy or digestion, are you feeling any different?  Those are things you typically feel pretty quickly.” 

F “OMG Yes!  I was surprised how quickly I felt improvements. I’m excited to experience even more improvements in the weeks to come!” 

M “I do feel my energy level has increased. I will relate more at my next assessment.”

20% Of Us Who Are Over 65 Will Get This Disease

Dear FOFriends: Bausch + Lomb has compensated FabOverFifty for this blog. I assure you that the content is factual and valuable, and all opinions are my own! – Geri Brin

If you’re at least 50 years old, please stop for a moment and do this:

Cover your right eye with your hand (if you wear glasses, you can keep them on), then make a fist with your left hand, and put it over your left eye. Notice how the central vision is cut off in your left eye? That’s what happens if you get advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss in Americans age 50 and older, according to the National Eye Institute.

AMD will impact over 11.5 million Americans, and 9 million will experience moderate to advanced AMD, reported the American Medical Association. One in five people over the age of 65 will be diagnosed with AMD, according to the American Foundation for the Blind.

“We all take our vision for granted on some level, until something happens,” said Dr. Michael Cooney, a New York City- based ophthalmologist and retina specialist who focuses on the treatment of eye diseases, particularly AMD and diabetic retinopathy. AMD affects more Americans than Alzheimer’s Disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. “Early-stage AMD often does not present any symptoms or changes in vision,” Dr. Cooney explained. “Something can be going wrong with an eye, and you won’t even know it because the other eye compensates, and your brain can fill in the blanks,” he cautioned.

This explains why experts like Dr. Cooney recommend a comprehensive dilated eye exam once a year for people over the age of 50, which will screen for a “whole host of vision-threatening problems, particularly AMD.” And what better time to request your annual eye exam than now, during AMD Awareness Month. During February, Bausch + Lomb, a Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. company whose mission is to protect, enhance and restore people’s eyesight, encourages you to put your eyesight first and understand the risk factors of AMD, to help reduce the risk of progression. (more…)

Win An Invaluable Package Of Health Screening Tests from Life Line Screening

                        Carotid artery screening

When I heard that I could get screening tests to assess my risk for five big health issues—at a spectacular package price–I thought I had nothing to lose.  I was in my mid fifties, fit and had no reason to suspect anything was wrong. The results of one of the tests told me otherwise. You can read about my experience here. 

But first, enter to win the same package of screening tests, from Life Line Screening, which has provided preventive screening to millions since it began 25 years ago. The tests are completely painless, quick and invaluable because they can set your mind at ease or detect problems early.  

The package, valued at $149, includes: 

ᐅ Carotid Artery Screening for the buildup of fatty plaque, the leading cause of strokes.

ᐅ Peripheral Arterial Disease Screening for plaque buildup in the lower extremities. 

ᐅ Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening for an enlargement in the abdominal aorta that could lead to a rupture. 

ᐅ Atrial Fibrillation Screening to detect an irregular heartbeat, which increases the risk of stroke by five times.

ᐅ Osteoporosis Risk Screening to determine bone mass density.  

Five smart ladies and gents will win the complete package. Life Line Screening appointments are available throughout the year in 60 cities across the country, at convenient times for everyone. I can’t think of a more indispensable giveaway.  It may not be a new car, a trip to the French Riviera, or a kitchen makeover. But, it can help give you what none of those things can: A longer, healthier life.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

Be one of five lucky ladies and gents to receive a package of five Life Line Screenings. Just fill out the form below!

Winners will be notified directly.
See official rules here. Contest closes on August 16th, 2019 at midnight E.S.T.
By entering this giveaway you agree to receive emails from FabOverFifty.com .

Contest limited to residents of the continental United States.

 

Life Line Screening Wanted to Keep Me Healthy. I Didn’t Listen.

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 

                  Carotid artery screening

I wasn’t overly concerned when the ultrasound test from Life Line Screening revealed mild fatty plaque in the carotid artery on the right side of my neck.  Two carotid arteries–there’s another one on the left side–carry oxygenated blood to the brain, neck and face, but the amount of plaque 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.  That was in 2010. 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, and to take low-dose baby aspirin every day. 

I’m 15 pounds lighter today and my cholesterol numbers are excellent, thanks to statins. Another carotid artery scan is scheduled for the end of July, and hopefully the level of plaque hasn’t progressed. “It might even have regressed,” my doctor said. If more plaque shows up, surgery might be necessary to clear it out. Serious surgery! 

Ironically, most doctors won’t recommend a carotid artery ultrasound for asymptomatic patients with no family history of stroke. What’s more, Medicare doesn’t cover the test unless someone has experienced symptoms such as transient ischemic attacks, mini strokes lasting only a few minutes.  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 nine years ago, I actually arranged for the first ultrasound through Life Line Screening as a preventive measure. Life Line has provided preventive screening to millions, and at remarkably fair fees, since it began 25 years ago. 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 disease,” said Dr. Keith Coffee, Chief Medical Officer at Life Line. 

                  A stroke in the brain

Besides the carotid artery screening for plaque, a Life Line special package offers tests for 1) 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 2) Abdominal aortic aneurysma 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. 3) Heart rhythm aka atrial fibrillation or AFib, a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications and 4) Osteoporosisa loss of bone density or mass. 

It’s 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

    Peripheral arterial disease screening

An average of 50 people a day check into each Life Line location in 60 cities across the country. 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. 

                           Results package

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 55 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. 

Please learn from my error: Get preventive screenings once you’re in your mid-fifties, whether or not you have symptoms.  And pay attention to what you learn.

for peace of mind or early detection 

The Must-Have Medical Test For Baby Boomers

This post is sponsored by Quest Diagnostics

It’s astounding that most of us who were born between 1945 and 1965 have heard about this disease, and some of us even know that baby boomers represent the majority (75%) of all those infected, but almost 60 percent of us have never been tested for it. Astounding, and not smart. Not smart at all!

The disease is Hepatitis C, which is caused by a blood-borne virus and primarily spread through contact with blood from an infected person. While some people only experience a short-term infection, the majority of those with the virus develop a chronic infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This can lead to permanent liver damage, as well as cirrhosis (scarring), liver cancer, and liver failure. Hep C-related cirrhosis is the leading cause of liver transplants. Almost 20,000 deaths were caused by the Hep C virus in 2014, and Hep C-related mortality the year before surpassed the total combined number of deaths from 60 other infectious diseases reported to the CDC, including pneumococcal disease and tuberculosis.

Over 3 million Americans are living with Hep C, which is often called “the silent epidemic” because most of those affected don’t even know it. It’s possible to be infected for decades without a single symptom. Unfortunately, your liver will be severely affected once symptoms of the chronic illness do appear. That’s scary!

If you’re one of the majority of boomers who doesn’t think you’re at risk for Hep C, think again. One in 30 boomers has it. Boomers, in fact are five times more likely to have the virus than the rest of the population.  Symptoms may include fever, stomach pain, jaundice, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, joint pain and loss of appetite. Take this short risk quiz to assess whether you’re at an increased risk for Hep C. And watch this video to see how a Hep C test saved Robin’s life.

Hep C rates peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, when you may have been exposed to contaminated blood during medical procedures, or even through body piercing–including ear piercing–and tattoos. It wasn’t until 1992 that blood was pre-screened and universal precautions were adopted for blood supplies. Since the disease can show no symptoms for decades, the CDC and The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend a one-time screening for all boomers born between 1945 and 1965.  

Health officials estimate that this simple screening blood test of all boomers will prevent over 120,000 Hep C virus related deaths. Ninety five to 99 percent of people with the virus can even be cured with current treatments that are simple and that have mild and very manageable side effects.  Curing the infection is necessary to stop further damage to your liver. But you can’t cure what you don’t even know you have, so talk to your doctor ASAP about being screened for Hep C today.

Visit KnowAboutHepC.com for more information about this potentially fatal disease.

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