Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Take a Break: Celebrate Burning Man 2018

Burning Man 2018 is underway from Aug. 26 to Sept. 3. This year’s theme is “I, Robot, which focuses on the many forms of artificial intelligence in our lives.

Not familiar with Burning Man? It began in 1986 when two friends put together a wooden figure and burned it on a San Francisco beach. Today close 70,000 people are gathering in Black Rocks, creating a one of a kind culture in the desert abiding by the principles of:
• Radical Inclusion, Self reliance and self expression
• Gifting
• Decommodification
• Communal Effort
• Civic Responsibility
• Leaving no trace
• Participation
• Immediacy

Learn more about Burning Man

Watch live stream real time footage at the SFGate website 

See past years Burning Man

In addition to the annual event in the dessert, there are smaller events around the world. Check out regional events to see what might be going on in your area 

 Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Life with Chronic Conditions: Kirtan Kriya Meditation

In last week’s Journal Watch  there was an article about how a certain type of yoga meditation Kirtan Kriya improved cognitive function and may protect women against the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.

A quick Google search came up with the following:
The Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation in Tucson, Arizona, has been studying the effects yoga meditation has on the brain and discovered (confirmed, really) that a certain form of yoga meditation, known as Kirtan Kriya, can have immediate, long-term positive benefits for the brain. Practicing this simple twelve-minute yoga meditation has been shown to bring about the following benefits:
  • Improve cerebral blood flow (help you think better).
  • Improve blood flow to the posterior cingulated gyrus (improve memory retrieval).
  • Increase activity in the frontal lobe (sharpen attention, concentration, and focus).
  • Replenish vital neurotransmitters and brain chemicals, such as acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and dopamine (which help the brain function more smoothly).
  • Increase energy levels, improve sleep quality, reduce stress (lower cortisol levels).
  • Improve both short- and long-term psychological health and spirtual well being.
Kirtan Kriya is an ancient yoga practice that involves the combination of focused breath work, singing or chanting (and whispering), finger movements (called “mudras”), and visualization. To perform it properly, you use or activate all of your senses, awakening your brain and rejuvenating your energy. Psychology Today

Also in last week’s Journal Watch, was research showing that a combination of cognitive and motor training may slow or reverse the progress of dementia.  This type of meditation does combine cognitive and motor skills.

If you prefer just an audio voice to follow try Karmari & Manvir  

After you understand the basics, practice along with the video. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Take a Break: Chill Out with a Horror Story or Movie

Summer reading that sends chills up your spine may just be the ticket for the late summer heat. However, it’s also the 200th birthday of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so if you’ve never read it-or seen the original movie-now’s the time.

NPR has assembled an all-star panel to pick out 100 of the best of the 7,000 entries people sent in as their favorite horror story of all time. Do you have a favorite? If not, check out the NPR list as just reading it will provide a tingle or two. 

Remember all those eerie Black & White movies, including Dracula and Frankenstein from the 1930s? You can watch them for free on uTube.

Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Journal Watch August 2018

CPM for knee or shoulder joints: Advantage only in two therapeutic indications: Patients who have had knee or shoulder surgery or who require conservative treatment can benefit from training with motor-driven continuous passive motion (CPM) devices. However, this only applies to two therapeutic indications, and in each case only to one treatment outcome. Patients with stiff shoulder have less pain with CPM treatment than with physiotherapy alone. The range of motion after total knee replacement is improved if CPM is used in addition to physiotherapy. This is the result of the final report published by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Most common shoulder operation is no more beneficial than placebo surgery: The Finnish Shoulder Impingement Arthroscopy Controlled Trial (FIMPACT) compared surgical treatment of shoulder impingement syndrome to placebo surgery. Two years after the procedure the study participants, both those in the group who underwent surgery and the ones in the placebo group, had equally little shoulder pain and were equally satisfied with the overall situation of their shoulder. "These results show that this type of surgery is not an effective form of treatment for this most common shoulder complaint. BMJ 

Child Abuse Linked to Fibromyalgia: A new study has shown that women Veterans being treated for fibromyalgia exhibit high rates of childhood abuse. Journal of General Internal Medicine

Acupuncture May Cut Arthralgia From Aromatase Inhibitors: Acupuncture may cut joint pain among postmenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer and aromatase inhibitor-related pain, according to a study published in the July 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

HerbList App Launched to Provide Information on Herbal Products: The National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has announced the launch of an app for easy access to research-based information on the safety and effectiveness of herbal products. HerbList allows users to access information about the science of more than 50 popular herbs and herbal supplements, including kava, acai, ginkgo, turmeric, and others marketed for health purposes. Information on potential safety problems, side effects, and herbal-drug interactions can be also be accessed via additional links for more information. Favorite herbs can be marked for quick recall and offline accessibility.

Yoga meditation May Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease in Women: Kirtan Kriya, a form of yoga meditation, improved cognitive function and may protect women against the development of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a presentation at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Marijuana May Improve Quality of Life in Head and Neck Cancer: For patients with newly diagnosed head and neck cancer (HNC), quality of life may improve with marijuana use, according to a study published online Aug. 2 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

• Approved TPOXX (tecovirimat), the first drug with an indication for treatment of smallpox.
• Requires strengthening the current warnings in the prescribing information that fluoroquinolone antibiotics may cause significant decreases in blood sugar and certain  mental health side effects.
• Approved first targeted treatment, Tibsovo tablets, for relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with IDH1 mutation in adult patients.
• Approved the Magrace and Sentimag Magnetic Localization System for guiding sentinel lymph node biopsies in certain patients with breast cancer.
• Warns of the Dangers of 'Vaginal Rejuvenation'
• Approved segesterone acetate and ethinyl estradios, a new vaginal ring for 1 year of birth control
• Approved the first identical alternative to the EpiPen
• Permits Marketing of Brain stimulation device-transcranial magnetic stimulation- to treat obsessive compulsive disorder

Mere expectation of checking work email after hours harms health of workers and families: The study demonstrates that employees do not need to spend actual time on work in their off-hours to experience harmful effects. The mere expectations of availability increase strain for employees and their significant others -- even when employees do not engage in actual work during nonwork time. Academy of Management Proceedings

Older adults who get physical can lower their heart disease risk Adults in their early 60s, who spend less time sitting and more time engaged in physical activity have healthier levels of heart and vessel disease indicators. The results from increased physical activity were found to be particularly good among women. JAHA 

Cardiac Profiles Up With Exercise, Less Sitting in Early Old Age: For adults aged 60 to 64 years, greater light physical activity (PA) and moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA and less sedentary time are associated with more favorable cardiovascular profiles, according to a study published online Aug. 8 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Exercise Cuts Risk of Chronic Disease in Older Adults: People who engaged in the highest levels of total physical activity were twice as lively to avoid stroke, heart disease, angina, cancer and diabetes, and be in optimal physical and mental shape 10 years later, experts found. Scientific Reports

Exercise shown to improve symptoms of patients with chronic kidney disease: Just 12 weeks of aerobic and strength-based exercise reduces symptoms and levels of fatigue in patients with chronic kidney disease. Clinical Kidney Journal

 Walking Tied to Better Quality of Life in Those With/at Risk for CVD: Walking is associated with improved quality of life (QoL) among those at risk for or living with cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a study published in PLOS ONE

Perspectives on USPSTF A-Fib Screening Recommendation: The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force published a final recommendation on Aug. 7 citing insufficient evidence to assess the benefits and harms of screening for atrial fibrillation (AF) with electrocardiography (ECG) in asymptomatic, older adults. A series of editorials published in the JAMA network journals offer additional perspectives, with recognition of the need to develop a national screening strategy.

'Good' Cholesterol May Not Be So in Postmenopausal Women: Elevated high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) may not always be cardioprotective in postmenopausal women, according to a study published online July 19 in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

Some Bacteria Now More Tolerant of Alcohol-Based Sanitizers: Some types of bacteria are developing tolerance of alcohol-based hand sanitizers used in hospitals, according to a study published in the Aug. 1 issue of Science Translational Medicine. The introduction of these sanitizers into hospitals led to reductions in staph infections in patients and certain kinds of drug-resistant bacteria, but there was a rise in enterococcal infections, NPR reported. Worldwide, enterococci account for 10 percent of bacterial infections acquired in the hospital. In North America and Europe, they are a leading cause of sepsis.

Greater Weight Loss Benefits Metabolic Health People who lose more than a fifth of their body weight more than double their likelihood of good metabolic health, compared with those who only lose a relatively small amount, according to a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Study finds average salt consumption safe for heart health: New research shows that for the vast majority of individuals, sodium consumption does not increase health risks except for those who eat more than five grams a day, the equivalent of 2.5 teaspoons of salt. Fewer than five per cent of individuals in developed countries exceed that level. The large, international study also shows that even for those individuals there is good news. Any health risk of sodium intake is virtually eliminated if people improve their diet quality by adding fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, potatoes, and other potassium rich foods. The Lancet 

A Diverse Diet May Not Be the Healthiest One: Encouraging people to eat a wide variety of foods to ensure they meet all their dietary needs may backfire, according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association that provides an overview of recent scientific studies. There is some evidence that a wider variety of food options in a meal may delay people's feeling of satiation (fullness), increasing the amount of food they eat. Limited evidence suggests that greater dietary diversity is associated with eating more calories, poor eating patterns and weight gain in adults. Instead of telling people to eat a variety of foods, the statement authors conclude that dietary recommendations should emphasize adequate consumption of plant foods, such as fruit, vegetables, beans and whole grains, low-fat dairy products, non-tropical vegetable oils, nuts, poultry and fish, and limit consumption of red meat, sweets and sugary drinks. Circulation

Review Addresses Nutritional Hype for Popular Foods: While many dietary patterns, foods, and nutrients receive substantial media attention and are hyped as having cardiovascular benefits, some have evidence for these benefits and others do not, according to a review published in the July 31 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The researchers found evidence of harm and recommend limiting or avoiding added sugars and energy drinks. They found a lack of evidence of harm or benefit for dairy products and fermented food and seaweed. They found evidence of benefit for legumes, moderate habitual coffee consumption, tea, mushrooms, alcohol in recommended amounts, plant or marine omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12 supplements for those who are deficient.

Nut Intake Reduces HbA1c Among Adults With T2DM:Nut intake reduces hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) among individuals with type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the August issue of Diabetologia. "Nut intake as a replacement for carbohydrate consumption improves glycemic control and lipid risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes.”

Moderate carbohydrate intake may be best for health, study suggests: The observational study of more than 15,400 people from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) in the USA found that diets both low (< 40% energy) and high (>70% energy) in carbohydrates were linked with an increase in mortality, while moderate consumers of carbohydrates (50-55% of energy) had the lowest risk of mortality. The Lancet

Both Abstinence and High Alcohol Use Linked to Dementia: Abstinence in midlife and consumption of more than 14 units of alcohol per week are associated with increased risk of dementia, according to a study published online Aug. 1 in The BMJ.

Cognitive and Motor Training Combined May Slow or Reverse the Progress of Dementia: Research published in Dementia and Geriatric Disorders found that just 30 minutes of visually-guided movements per week can slow and even reverse the progress of dementia. Those in the early stages of dementia who were exposed to 30 minutes a week to a game which used rules to make visually-guided movements, were able to slow down the progress of dementia and for some, even reverse their cognitive function to healthy status. “These results suggest that even in the earliest stages of neurodegeneration, the aging brain has enough neuroplasticity left that if you can train it on this kind of thinking and moving task, it will improve their cognitive skills.”

Rivaroxaban Effective for Atrial Fibrillation, VTE in Morbidly Obese: Morbid obesity does not appear to compromise the efficacy or safety of anticoagulation treatment with the direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC) rivaroxaban, according to a retrospective analysis of more than 600 obese patients presented here at the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH) 64th Annual Scientific and Standardization Committee (SSC) Meeting.

Depression, Antidepressants Are Associated With an Increased Risk of VTE: In the first review of its kind, new research has found that depression and the use of antidepressants are each associated with an increased risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE). The study, published in the Annals of Medicine, also showed that each of the various classes of antidepressant medications are associated with an increased risk of VTE. 

Tamsulosin Does Not Appear to Promote Urinary Stone Passage: Tamsulosin does not significantly increase the urinary stone passage rate compared with placebo, according to a study published online June 18 in JAMA Internal Medicine. Findings do not support tamsulosin treatment for symptomatic urinary stones <9 mm="" span="">

Flu Vaccine Cuts Mortality in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), particularly elderly patients, who receive the influenza vaccine have significantly lower morbidity and mortality, according to a study published in the June issue of the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases.

Benzodiazepines Associated With Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease: The use of benzodiazepines and related drugs is associated with a modestly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. The risk increase was similar with both benzodiazepines and related drugs regardless of their half-life. 

Triple Combo Blood Pressure Pill Can Improve BP Control: Treatment with a pill combining low doses of three antihypertensive drugs results in an increased proportion of patients with mild-to-moderate hypertension achieving their target blood pressure (BP), according to a study published in the Aug. 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Men Take Care of Their Spouses Just as Well as Women. Men respond to their spouse's illness just as much as women do and as a result are better caregivers in later life than previous research suggests Journals of Gerontology, Series B

New Tick Species Spreading in the United States: The first new tick species to appear in the United States in 50 years is spreading rapidly in the east and has been confirmed in seven states and the suburbs of New York City. In its home range, the Asian longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) carries a virus that kills 15 percent of its victims, but is considered a greater threat to livestock than to humans, The New York Times reported.

More Than 40% of Women With Asthma May Develop COPD More than 4 in 10 women with asthma may go on to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society. In addition to smoking, the study identified obesity, rural residence, lower education levels, and unemployment as significant risk factors for ACOS. The researchers speculate that these factors indicative of low socioeconomic status may result in suboptimal access to care, undertreatment of asthma, and poor compliance to medications, all of which lead to more frequent asthma attacks. These attacks, in turn, may lead to airway remodelling that increases the chances of developing asthma and COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS).

Patient Portals Don’t Appear to Have Much Traction: Patient portals have not taken off as expected, according to an article published in Medical Economics. Portals enable patients to view their health records and lab results online, share the information with other providers, and exchange secure messages with their physician's office. But both anecdotal reports from physicians and some government reports have found that few patients are actually using them.

Most Postmenopausal Bleeding Not Associated with Cancer: Most women with postmenopausal bleeding (PMB) will not be diagnosed with endometrial cancer, according to a review published online Aug. 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

National Guideline Clearinghouse Offline Due to Funding Cuts: The National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC) and National Quality Measures Clearinghouse (NQMC) websites were taken down on July 16 when funding for these federal databases ended, according to an announcement by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Take a Break: Try Paper Batik and Tie Dying

Recently my brother-in-law gave me a present wrapped in the most incredible paper-it was Batik or possibly tie dyed. Which ever I’ve been enthralled and have been trying various techniques.

Checking different videos, I noticed that if you drop food coloring onto paper towels, it spreads and leaks through to the surface below. After laying down a piece of plastic (a trash can bag), I placed a sheet of paper-the kind they wrap glass in at the store-and
Paper towel with blotches of color
placed paper towel on top of it. I used cheap food colors and dropped color splotches all over. While some of it bled through to the paper, I wanted more of an effect.

I should have sprayed lightly with water, but since I didn’t want to look for a spray bottle, I doused it with way more water than needed. It bled in all sorts of directions and ended up with an interesting effect. 

After wetting it-note the spreading color

After it dried
Below are links and videos to check out:

Crayon Batik If you prefer written directions,try Crayon Batik 

This is a cool video of Tie Dying for a notebook. Can think of a lot of cool ways to use this.  

Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

It’s the Little Things That Make a Big Difference When Someone is Ill

I spent the past week in New York City (NYC) as our son was having a  heart procedure as a result of a hereditary condition. It was extremely anxious situation for him and for us. However, all of it was made so much easier by the little things that people did. While it may not seem like you’ve done very much, the smallest of kindnesses is worth its weight in gold.

Below are all the ways that made a difference
 • Walking up to the NYU Langone hospital complex, we were greeted by a 38 foot tall Dalmatian balancing a NYC yellow cab. It made us smile and improved our mood. It also sends a message that anything is possible. Spot is the creation of Donald Lipski, who has been a patient at the hospital. He provided the following insight into his sculpture, “It is a stressful time, and I wanted to make something that would delight them; something so astounding it would distract even those arriving for the most serious procedures, and so lovable that young patients coming back again and again with chronic conditions would see it as an old friend,” said Lipski, who believes there is a reparative quality to art. “Art has actual healing power. That’s a fact! I like to think that the parents, the doctors and nurses and staff, the neighbors, will all love this sweet young dog doing the impossible.” Couldn’t agree with more that art can improve one's mood and aid in healing. 

• Several people e-mailed the day before and the day of the surgery to let us know they were thinking of us and praying for a speedy recovery. The fact that they remembered and took a minute or two to let us know lifted our spirits.

• My older son took time off from work to be with us. Our sons’ good friend also joined us for the lengthy wait at the hospital. There was lots of laughter, which always helps.

• There were various times during the 24 hours we spent at the hospital where we could be with our son. Watching his brother rub his feet did wonders for all of us.

• A liaison staff member at the hospital kept us informed of what was happening.

• My brother-in-laws and their close friend opened their homes to us, so we had a place to stay together, park our car and provided us meal after meal along with lots of hugs and support. My husband’s brother has the same heart issue, and had gotten our son into care when he began to have problems. We couldn’t have stayed with anyone better who understood exactly what was going on. Can’t imagine we were the best of house guests, but you’d never know it by how we were treated.

• While it was hotter than blazes in NYC, it was quite cold in the hospital. One of the nurses brought me a heated blanket. A moment of bliss.

• My son’s medical team brought lots of humor and support. In addition, they were also able to talk to our older son about what he needs to do if he should have symptoms. While no one wants to hear that they are at risk for anything, the physician’s assistant made him feel he had a place to go and would be well taken care of.

• The ancillary staff at the hospital that greeted us with a smile no matter the time of day or where we were. A genuine smile matters more than you know.

• The other people waiting to hear how their family/friend was doing became an impromptu support group. Talking to someone in a similar situation definitely helps.

• Our friends who watched pets and made sure everything was okay at home.

• The “get well” messages that people e-mailed and facebooked all touched us in such positive ways.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Life With Chronic Conditions: Skip the Brain Games for Brain Health

Despite all the claims by Luminosity and other “brain training” games, the scientific evidence is just not there. In July 2017, the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH)  issued a statement saying the evidence that “brain games” can maintain and improve brain health is “weak to nonexistent. These games can be fun and engaging, but often, the claims made by companies touting the benefits of these games are exaggerated.”

In the last week, another study was released showing “Brain Game Doesn’t Offer Brain Gain,” which adds credence to the GCBH report. According to one of the neuroscientists connected with this newest study, Bobby Stojanoski, the best thing you can do to help your brain is to "Sleep better, exercise regularly, eat better, education is great -- that's the sort of thing we should be focused on. If you're looking to improve your cognitive self, instead of playing a video game or playing a brain training test for an hour, go for a walk, go for a run, socialize with a friend. These are much better things for you."

So what about crossword puzzles? Sodku? If you like doing them, continue. If you dislike them but are doing it for brain health, skip it. Go learn something new instead. Learning a second language, an instrument or new technology skills on the computer are helpful and can make a difference

The GCBH  makes the following recommendations for Enhancing Brain Health: Find new ways to stimulate their brain and challenge the way they think (e.g., learning new skills, practicing tai-chi, taking photography classes, investigating their genealogy). It is also important to participate in mentally-stimulating activities that include social engagement and a purpose in life (e.g., volunteering as a companion and mentoring others in your community). In addition, people should consider physical activities (e.g., dancing or tennis) that involve both mental engagement and physical exercise to improve brain health. Choose an activity that you enjoy. Pick a skill or hobby that you want to learn and find a friend or companion to help you do it. Select activities that fit with your schedule and are easily accessible. 

Activities that combine motor and cognitive functions, such as learning new dance moves, Tai Chi or Qigong are more beneficial than just doing one type of activity alone. Interestingly “exergames” doubles the mental benefits above and beyond traditional exercise. Not familiar with Exergaming? It’s a technology driven physical activity, such as video game play that requires participants to be physically active or exercise in order to play the game. Examples of such activities include Dance Dance Revolution, WII fit, games for stationary bikes etc.

The Alzheimer’s Association offers “10 Ways to Love YourBrain” that are similar to CCBH but also recommend not smoking; wearing a helmet; and managing stress, anxiety.