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Shingrix is the new shingles vaccination.  The CDC is now recommending Shingrix instead of Zostavax.  Recommendations for administration of Shingrix are two doses separated by 2-6 months.  Healthy adults ages 50 and greater are the population that should be immunized.  Shingrix is NOT a live vaccination, so it can be used in a wider range of patient population.  Shingrix has been shown to be >90% effective at protecting against shingles and post herpetic neuralgia when both doses are administered.

In adults 50 to 69 years old who received two doses, Shingrix was 97% effective in preventing shingles and 91% effective in preventing post herpetic neuralgia.  In adults 70 years and older who received two doses, Shingrix was 91% effective in preventing shingles and 89% effective in preventing post herpetic neuralgia.  At least 85% coverage has been shown even 4 years after the initial vaccination series.

Patients should receive Shingrix even if they have had shingles, already had Zostavax, or if chicken pox status is unknown.  Patients should wait 8 weeks if he/she has recently had Zostavax before getting Shingrix vaccinations.  There is no maximum age for the vaccination as risk of shingles and post herpetic neuralgia increase with age.

Patients that should not receive Shingrix are those who are allergic to Shingrix, pregnant or breastfeeding, currently have shingles, or have tested negative for immunity to varicella zoster.

If a patient has a minor illness with temperature <101.3F, he/she may receive the vaccination.  If a patient has a moderate-severe illness or if temperature is >101.3F, wait until he/she is well before receiving the immunization.

Side effects in studies last 2-3 days included, a sore arm with mild-moderate pain, redness and swelling at injection site, feeling tired, muscle pain, headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea.  Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness.

The Shingrix vaccine is available daily.  Stop by to get vaccinated or contact one of our pharmacists for more information. 

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Are you that person who doesn’t take their medications as prescribed?  If so, you’re not the only one.  However, medication noncompliance is unhealthy and can become costly.  It is estimated non-adherence causes:

  • 30%-50% of treatment failures and 125,000 deaths annually. 
  • Increased mortality risk by 12%-25% for statins
  • Increased hospitalization risks for cardioprotective medication by 10%-40% and mortality by 50%-80%

Furthermore, it is estimated non-adherent patients will spend an additional $2000 in physician visits annually.  There are more statistics we could discuss on medication non-adherence; however, we want to know why and how we can help.

There are many reasons to why you may not be compliant with your medications.  Are you confused on how you should you take it, is it the cost of the medication, do you have side effects, do you have difficulties getting to the pharmacy, do you simply forget, etc?  Whatever the reason maybe we can assist you!  Here are some tips and tricks to staying compliant with your meds:

  • Request to enroll in the pharmacy’s medication adherence program.  Our pharmacy can synchronize all your prescriptions to be filled on the same day every month, minimizing your pharmacy trips.  Furthermore, we can sink all your family’s medications to a single pick-up date.
  • Take it along with other daily events, like brushing your teeth or with your morning coffee.  Example: put your medication bottle next to your favorite coffee cup or coffee pot.
  • Use special pill boxes that help you keep track, like the ones divided into sections for each day of the week 
  • Set an alarm on your phone; customize the setting on your alarm for repeat.
  • Keep a "medicine calendar" near your medicine and make a note every time you take your dose.
  • Talk to your pharmacist and identify if there is a generic substitute that may be cheaper
  • Utilize free delivery if you have transportation issues
  • Discuss any negative side effects with your pharmacist; there may be a substitute available that doesn’t affect you the same way.
  • Most importantly, understand your medication.  Know what it is for, how and when you should be taking it. 

Contact us with any questions you may have about medication adherence and how we can assist you! 

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It’s the holidays and for most Americans, that means eating – lots of eating – followed by weight gain and a New Year’s resolution to lose weight.

But why not take a healthier approach to what we eat during this holiday season and beyond?

According to a recent website survey, about 18 percent of people say it’s hard for them to eat healthy because they don’t want to stop eating their favorite foods. The good news is you don’t have to. You can still enjoy your favorite occasional indulgences, but in moderation. It’s all about being mindful of what you eat.

Mindless Eating

Mindless eating is consuming food just because it’s there. It’s eating while distracted – watching TV, working at a computer or texting on our smartphones. It’s eating for emotional comfort instead of for hunger. Simply put, it’s not paying attention to what we eat which can lead to being overweight and even obesity.

“Mindless eating has always been an issue,” said Riska Platt, M.S., a registered dietitian and certified nutritionist for the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York. “The key to mindful eating is awareness. Just by paying more attention to what you eat, you’re more likely to make beneficial changes.”

Awareness

When you pay attention to what you’re eating, you can make small changes that make a big difference. Here are some tips toward a more mindful approach:

  • Control portions. Especially during the holidays, know that you’ll have more opportunities to eat festive snacks and desserts. You don’t have to deprive yourself, just eat smaller portions and less often.
  • Eat when you’re hungry. Just because the clock says noon doesn’t mean you have to eat. If you’re not hungry, wait until you are – just don’t wait until you’re famished because you might overeat. Also, don’t eat just because the food is available. Learn more about why you might be eating when not hungry.  
  • Plan. Prepare healthy snacks throughout the day. If you tend to get hungry between meals, bring along a 200-calorie, whole grain, high-fiber snack, fiber keeps you feeling full longer.
  • Slow down. Enjoy each bite and put your fork down while chewing, then take a drink between each bite. This gives your body enough time to trigger your brain that you are satisfied (not necessarily full).
  • Pay attention. Do not eat in front of the TV or computer, or while standing in the kitchen or talking on the phone. When you do these things, you’re more likely to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.
  • Use technology. As we continue to become increasingly distracted by modern technology, our focus on health can fall to the back burner. But it doesn’t have to be that way. “We can actually use our smartphones and other electronic devices to help us,” said Platt, a volunteer with the American Heart Association. “There are now apps that manage food records, count calories, help you track what you eat and even provide guidance on healthy food choices at the grocery store and restaurants.”
  • Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat, look at it, then identify why you ate it – was it hunger, stress, boredom? Then look for areas you can make adjustments and incorporate healthy changes. “Keeping a food diary is really key to awareness,” Platt said. “Most people are surprised at all they’ve consumed when they review what they’ve eaten.”

Eating healthier is easier than you think!

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Asthma is a condition that causes people to have trouble getting enough air to their lungs.  An "asthma attack" is when you have trouble catching your breath.  Some common triggers include:

  • Dust in your house
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Dirty air outside
  • Cockroach droppings
  • Pets
  • Mold
  • Hard exercise that makes you breath really fast
  • Some medicines
  • Bad weather
  • Some kinds of food

Even getting really excited, or feeling very made, sad or scared can cause an asthma attack.

Different kinds of medicine can help.  Sometimes you'll use an inhaler, a little can of special air you squirt into your mouth as you breath in.  Some contain "quick help" medicine that helps keep your asthma under control.

Your doctor can explain ore about your medications and how to use them.  Remember: It's always OK to ask questions! Your doctor and pharmacists are here to help! 

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Tips to Stay Cool

We are all looking forward to spending some much needed time outdoors and enjoying the warmer weather summer brings!  However, with that come the possibilities of danger, as the summertime heat can become brutal.  Keeping cool during summer isn’t just for comfort but also for your wellness. 

Extreme heat can lead to very high body temperatures, brain and organ damage, and even death. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and cool themselves properly. Extreme heat affects everyone, but the elderly, children, the poor or homeless, persons who work or exercise outdoors, and those with chronic medical conditions are most at risk.

Follow these tips below to stay cool this summer:

1.       Alter your pattern of outdoor exercise to take advantage of cooler times (early morning or late evening). If you can't change the time of your workout, scale it down by doing fewer minutes, walking instead or running, or decreasing your level of exertion.

2.       Wear loose-fitting clothing, preferably of a light color.

3.       Cotton clothing will keep you cooler than many synthetics.

4.       Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick refreshing spray to your face after being outdoors.

5.       Fans can help circulate air and make you feel cooler even in an air-conditioned house.

6.       Try storing lotions or cosmetic toners in the refrigerator to use on hot, overtired feet.

7.       Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; grab one when you're ready to go outside. As the ice melts, you'll have a supply of cold water with you.

8.       Take frequent baths or showers with cool or tepid water.

9.       Combat dehydration by drinking plenty of water along with sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes.

10.   Some people swear by small, portable, battery-powered fans. At an outdoor event I even saw a version that attaches to a water bottle that sprays a cooling mist.

11.   I learned this trick from a tennis pro: if you're wearing a cap or hat, remove it and pour a bit of ice cold water into the hat, then quickly invert it and place on your head.

12.   Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will promote dehydration.

13.   Instead of hot foods, try lighter summer fare including frequent small meals or snacks containing cold fruit or low fat dairy products. As an added benefit, you won't have to cook next to a hot stove.

14.   If you don't have air-conditioning, arrange to spend at least parts of the day in a shopping mall, public library, movie theater, or other public space that is cool. Many cities have cooling centers that are open to the public on sweltering days.

15.   Finally, use common sense. If the heat is intolerable, stay indoors when you can and avoid activities in direct sunlight or on hot asphalt surfaces. Pay special attention to the elderly, infants, and anyone with a chronic illness, as they may dehydrate easily and be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. Don't forget that pets also need protection from dehydration and heat-related illnesses too.

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Itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, fatigue…. These are just a few of the signs of seasonal allergies—also known as hay fever. And get ready: It looks like we may have a real doozy of an allergy season this year.  Milder winter temperatures in places can cause plants to pollinate early. And a rainier spring leads to quick plant growth, as well as an increase in mold.

Allergic reactions mostly occur when your body responds to a “false alarm.” And, as you well know, there isn’t a cure for seasonal allergies. But there’s no reason to let this time of year take all the spring out of your step! Arm yourself with information.

Monitor climate factors. When checking the weather and planning your day, keep these things in mind:

·         Heat and high humidity promote the growth of molds.

·         Cool nights and warm days allow tree, grass, and ragweed pollens to thrive.

·         In spring and summer, tree and grass pollen levels tend to peak in the evening.

·         In late summer and early fall, ragweed pollen levels tend to peak in the morning.

·         Windy and warm days often result in surging pollen counts.

·         After a rainfall, pollen counts may go up, even though the rain temporarily washes pollen away.

Avoid your triggers. If allergies are making you miserable, you may want to see an allergist. Specializing in allergies, this person can help you figure out what triggers your symptoms. Then you can find ways to cut off those triggers at the pass. During allergy season:

·         Keep windows and doors shut in your car and home.

·         Monitor pollen and mold counts daily. Weather reporters often provide this information.

·         After working or playing outdoors, take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes.

·         When doing chores outside, wear a NIOSH-rated filter mask. Better yet? Delegate!

·         Be on the lookout for mold, which can build up in moist months. A deep spring cleaning will help get rid of mold and other allergens. Cleanliness may not be close to godliness. But it sure may help you feel better.

·         Clear the air with a HEPA room air cleaner rated with a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). If you have central air, use air filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Change air filters every three months.

Relieve your symptoms. Corticosteroid nasal sprays, decongestants, antihistamines. These are examples of over-the-counter drugs that can help relieve your symptoms. Come talk to me to make sure you’re using them the right way. If side effects are a problem, we can work together to come up with a solution. For example, a few possible side effects of antihistamines are sleepiness, dry mouth, constipation, and light-headedness.

For some people, allergies can lead to or coexist with other health problems such as asthma or sinusitis. Asthma narrows or blocks the airways. Sinusitis is caused by inflammation or infection of cavities behind the nose.Just one more reason why working with your doctor and pharmacist is a good idea.

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Are you one of those guys who can’t remember the last time you stepped foot in a doctor’s office? Sure, maybe you’ve gotten in for something urgent, but what about scheduling an annual exam or screening tests? Maybe you simply forget, think you already have healthy habits, or insist that you “feel just fine.” Sorry, guys…. Not quite good enough.

Regular checkups and screening tests aren’t something you can afford to ignore. Baseline tests can help your doctor know how your health is changing over time. Plus, silent killers such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol can wreak havoc—and you wouldn’t have a clue without being tested.

Here’s a simple screening cheat sheet to make your life easier.

 

1. Abdominal aortic aneurysm. If you have ever smoked, get this ultrasound test one time between ages 65 and 75. This test will show whether or not your largest artery (abdominal aorta) is bulging. If it is, it may burst, putting you at risk for bleeding—and even death.

 

2. Blood pressure. Starting at age 18:

·         Get tested at least every 2 years if your blood pressure is lower than 120/80.

·         Get tested once a year if your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 139/89.

·         Discuss treatment with your doctor if your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.

 

3. Cholesterol. From age 20 to 34, get a regular cholesterol test if you are at increased risk for heart disease. At age 35, get a regular cholesterol test. Ask your doctor how often you need to do this.

 

4. Colorectal cancer. Get screened for colorectal cancer from age 50 to 75. This screening may include one or more tests, such as fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy. Ask your doctor which test is best for you and how often you need it.

 

5. Depression. Ask your doctor about being screened for depression if over the past weeks:

·         You have felt sad or hopeless

·         You have lost interest or pleasure in doing the things you normally enjoy

 

6. Diabetes. Starting at age 18, get screened if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take high blood pressure medicine.

 

7. Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Get screened once if you:

·         Were born between 1945 and 1965.

·         Have ever injected drugs.

·         Received a blood transfusion before 1992.

 

8. Lung cancer. Ask your doctor whether or not to be screened if you:

·         Are between 55 and 80.

·         Have a 30 pack-year smoking history. (This is the number of packs smoked per day times the number of years you smoked.)

·         Smoke now or quit within the past 15 years.

 

9. Overweight and obesity. This is a test you can do yourself. Find your body mass index (BMI) by entering your weight and height into an online BMI calculator.

Discuss with your doctor whether you are at increased risk for any other diseases. If so, you may need other tests.

Be honest with your health care provider and me. Be sure to let us know what worries you—whether it’s your weight, alcohol use, or challenges with anxiety. Think of us as your partners in health. We can do a much better job of helping you if we fully understand your health challenges and concerns.

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

Sources:

1.      AHRQ: Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/patient-involvement/healthy-men/healthy-men.html  Accessed 5-4-16.

2.      OWH: Screening tests for men. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/screening-tests-and-vaccines/screening-tests-for-men/ Accessed 5-4-16.

 

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May is the month when many women celebrate Mother’s Day. Maybe breakfast in bed, homemade cards, extra hugs….? It’s pretty wonderful to feel so cared for. But how well do you take care of yourself—whether or not you’re a mother?

                One big piece of self-care involves regular screening tests, which can prevent many health problems—or help you nip them in the bud as early as possible. Life can get hectic, though, so it’s easy to forget or to put it off. Here is a brief overview of the tests the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends for women. Remember: these are guidelines only. Talk with your doctor about your unique needs.

1. Blood pressure test. Starting at age 18:

·         Get tested at least every 2 years if your blood pressure is lower than 120/80.

·         Get tested once a year if your blood pressure is between 120/80 and 139/89.

·         Discuss treatment with your doctor if your blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.

2. Bone mineral density test.

·         At age 50, ask your doctor if you are at risk for bone disease (osteoporosis).

·         At age 65 or older, have at least one bone mineral density test. Ask your doctor whether you need repeat testing.

3. Breast cancer screening.

·         At age 40, discuss your risk with your doctor to decide if you need regular mammograms.

·         Starting at age 50, have a mammogram every 2 years.

·         At age 75, ask your doctor whether or not you need to be screened.

4. Cervical cancer screening.

·         Starting at age 21, get a Pap test every 3 years if you have a cervix.

·         Starting at age 30, you can get a Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) test together every 5 years if you have a cervix.

·         At age 65 or older, ask your doctor whether or not you need a Pap test.

5. Cholesterol test. Starting at age 20, get a regular cholesterol test if you are at increased risk for heart disease. Ask your doctor how often to do this.

6. Colorectal cancer screening. From age 50 to 75, get screened for colorectal cancer. This may include one or more tests, such as fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy. Ask your doctor which test is best for you and how often you need it.

 7. Diabetes screening.

Starting at age 18, get screened if your blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take high blood pressure medicine.


 
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