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health

14 Unique Ways People Are Generating More Physical Activity in Daily Routines

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A recent survey polled 2,000 U.S. adults to see how they’re staying active as their routines and lifestyles have undergone a drastic change over the past two years.

73% are eager to increase their physical activity and to change their habits, with 70% making more of an effort to move more, compared to when the pandemic began.

Whether due to working from home or lack of motivation, 42% said they struggle to stay physically active during the day.

Yet the survey found that people are renewing their commitment to an active lifestyle through activities like stretching at home (43%), at-home workouts (38%) and taking mental health walks (31%).

But people are also getting active in new ways, with 81 percent saying that exercising puts them in a better mood. Over half want to exercise more with their family, as well as be a good influence on their children.

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Calls for 2022 Community Health Survey to begin Wednesday

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WATERTOWN — The Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, in partnership with the North Country Health Compass Partners, will begin making calls to community members for its 2022 Community Health Survey on Wednesday.

Completed on an annual basis, the survey asks local adults about their thoughts and experiences with health care. Responses are kept anonymous and are used to assess the effectiveness of local programs, identify specific health needs in the community and create plans to address needs.

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Handheld Device Painlessly Identifies Skin Cancer

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Skin biopsies are no fun: doctors carve away small lumps of tissue for laboratory testing, leaving patients with painful wounds that can take weeks to heal. That’s a price worth paying if it enables early cancer treatment. However, in recent years, aggressive diagnostic efforts have seen the number of biopsies grow around four times faster than the number of cancers detected, with about 30 benign lesions now biopsied for every case of skin cancer that’s found.

Researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology are now developing a low-cost handheld device that could cut the rate of unnecessary biopsies in half and give dermatologists and other frontline physicians easy access to laboratory-grade cancer diagnostics. “We aren’t trying to get rid of biopsies,” said Negar Tavassolian, director of the Bio-Electromagnetics Laboratory at Stevens. “But we do want to give doctors additional tools and help them to make better decisions.”

The team’s device uses milimeter-wave imaging—the same technology used in airport security scanners—to scan a patient’s skin. (In earlier work, Tavassolian and her team had to work with already biopsied skin for the device to detect if it was cancerous.)

Healthy tissue reflects milimeter-wave rays differently than cancerous tissue, so it’s theoretically possible to spot cancers by monitoring contrasts in the rays reflected back from the skin. To bring that approach into clinical practice, the researchers used algorithms to fuse signals captured by multiple different antennas into a single ultrahigh-bandwidth image, reducing noise and quickly capturing high-resolution images of even the tiniest mole or blemish.

Spearheaded by Amir Mirbeik Ph.D. ’18, the team used a tabletop version of their technology to examine 71 patients during real-world clinical visits, and found their methods could accurately distinguish benign and malignant lesions in just a few seconds. Using their device, Tavassolian and Mirbeik could identify cancerous tissue with 97% sensitivity and 98% specificity—a rate competitive with even the best hospital-grade diagnostic tools.

“There are other advanced imaging technologies that can detect skin cancers, but they’re big, expensive machines that aren’t available in the clinic,” said Tavassolian. “We’re creating a low-cost device that’s as small and as easy to use as a cellphone, so we can bring advanced diagnostics within reach for everyone.”

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Nurses Week 2022: JCC nursing graduates to join Samaritan workforce

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WATERTOWN — In celebration of National Nurses Week, which begins each year on May 6 and ends on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12, soon-to-be graduates of the nursing program at Jefferson Community College are reflecting on the past four semesters and looking to the future.

Grace A. Matthews has always known nursing was the career for her. Fellow students Jennifer L. and Georgia L. Barton, mother and daughter, respectively, also enjoy the challenges of their chosen paths and the fact that nursing keeps them on their toes. Jennifer Barton was a teacher prior to joining the nursing program, and said she wanted to have more of an impact on the lives of others. The two say going through the program at the same time has pushed them to be better and brought them closer together.

All three will join the nursing workforce at Samaritan Medical Center.

“For this group in particular, we struggled a little bit coming into this. We were challenged due to the pandemic having our first semester virtual for the majority,” Mrs. Matthews said. “We weren’t able to be in person and so we had virtual clinicals, which is not the same, so coming into it as second-semester students we had to play catch up.”

While the pandemic put pressure on the new nursing students, it put even more on registered nurses working amid many unknowns. The pandemic stressed nurses nationwide as hospitalizations surged and patient needs increased, causing demand for nurses to soar.

Before the pandemic, nursing shortages fluctuated due to various factors. Starting in March 2020, the nursing workforce — the largest group of health care professionals in the country — suffered even more losses.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 194,500 average annual openings for registered nurses between 2020 and 2030, with employment projected to grow 9%.

Samaritan will soon be hiring graduating nurses, including Mrs. Matthews and Jennifer and Georgia Barton. The hospital hired 11 graduates in January from JCC and Canton-Potsdam Hospital who are now finishing orientation, and 24 more graduates will be hired by the end of the summer.

“We are getting back, but we still will have open nursing positions,” said Samaritan’s Chief Nursing Officer Jacqueline A. Dawe. “We had a lot of nurses retire from the industry once the pandemic started and then we had a lot of staff go traveling, they became traveler nurses. We’re not unique; a lot of the hospitals experienced this nationally as well.”

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Scientists Discover Genetic Cause of Lupus, a Chronic Autoimmune Disease

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An international team of researchers has identified a cause of the autoimmune disease lupus within the DNA mutations of a gene that senses viral RNA—findings that will lead to the development of new treatments.

Currently there is no cure for the chronic autoimmune disease which causes inflammation in organs and joints and affects movement and the skin—sometimes with debilitating symptoms and complications that can be fatal.

Lupus affects around a quarter-million people in the US and UK, and current treatments are predominantly immune-suppressors which work by dialing down the immune system to alleviate symptoms.

But scientists recently reported carrying out whole genome sequencing on the DNA of a Spanish child named Gabriela, who was diagnosed with severe lupus when she was 7 years old. Such a severe case with early onset of symptoms is rare and indicates a single genetic cause.

In their analysis published April 27 in Nature, the researchers report finding a single point mutation in the TLR7 gene. Via referrals from the US and the Shanghai Renji Hospital in China, they identified other cases of severe lupus where this gene was also mutated.

To confirm that the mutation causes lupus, the team used CRISPR gene-editing to introduce it into mice. These mice went on to develop the disease and showed similar symptoms, providing evidence that the TLR7 mutation was the cause. The mouse model and the mutation were both named ‘kika’ by Gabriela, the young girl being treated at the Centre for Personalised Immunology at the Australian National University.

“It has been a huge challenge to find effective treatments for lupus, and the immune-suppressors currently being used can have serious side effects and leave patients more susceptible to infection,” said Carola Vinuesa, senior author, principal investigator, and leader of the new Autoimmunity Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute where she will continue the research. “There has only been a single new treatment approved by the FDA in about the last 60 years.”

“This is the first time a TLR7 mutation has been shown to cause lupus, providing clear evidence of one way this disease can arise.”

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10 Super Food Combinations to Improve your Health – Like Apples with Leafy Greens to Lower Blood Pressure

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If you want to boost your mood, combine your daily apple with some leafy greens, while mixing grapes with onion can lower your blood pressure, according to diet experts.

Rob Hobson, a registered nutritionist with a special interest in food science has revealed the food combinations that can super-boost your health, as well as being healthy on their own.

Having a fish curry, which combines both turmeric and oily fish, can create a powerful anti-inflammatory—while eating a banana together with yoghurt can improve your bone health and help with gut bacteria.

Olive oil helps the human body to absorb the vitamin A found in tomatoes and red peppers, which is required for healthy skin and eyes.

While black grapes, rich in polyphenol antioxidant catechin, help to prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurological disorders, and together with onion can inhibit blood clots and boost cardiovascular health.

Other health-boosting food combinations include garlic and honey, which can help with upper respiratory tract infections, and almonds and berries which can help prevent heart disease.

But a study of 2,000 adults found 21 percent have little or no understanding of vitamins and minerals and their role within their body.

Rob Hobson, speaking on behalf of supplement brand Healthspan, which commissioned the research, said: “We thrive on synergies and many of us create them in our lives without even knowing we are doing them.

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These Superfoods Top Up Important Nutrients With a Single Bite

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What daily habits have you tried out in the name of good health?

Diana Rodgers, an author and registered dietician, is the host of the Sustainable Dish Podcast where she sometimes recounts her attempt to eat 100% of her daily values of all nutrients for a whole month, that is, to consume 100% without supplements. A nearly impossible task, Rodgers relied on eating liver, oysters, and other particular and sometimes expensive food sources every day to meet the demand.

Yet there are certain foods that are so rich in a particular nutrient that a mere bite can satisfy one’s daily requirements. Sometimes these foods are not advocated for by government agencies in particular, because they go against existing nationwide recommendations against eating too much meat, or fatty foods.

It bears repeating that RDAs, or recommended daily allowances, set by government agencies, have long been established at the bare-minimum for survival.

Harri Hemilä, a researcher at the Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki in Finland, details that even as late as 1990, the RDA recommendations for Vitamin C were “arbitrarily set at 60 mg/day to ‘provide an adequate margin of safety’ against scurvy,” even though the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who first discovered Vitamin C advocated for a gram per day, and that there were all kinds, (and there are) of problems that can arise from low C intake before the “pre-mortal” condition of scurvy.

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Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization distributes pulse oximeters

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WATERTOWN — Throughout January and February, the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization’s telehealth network procured and distributed 465 pulse oximeters to several of its health care partners in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

Pulse oximeters go on a patient’s finger and measure the saturation of oxygen in the blood, as well as the patient’s pulse. The provision of these oximeters enables partners to implement borrowing programs for high-risk patients with COVID-19 or other diseases resulting in respiratory illness.

Along with the oximeters, FDRHPO provided a tracking log, device instructions and directions about what to do if oxygen levels are at or below 90% for more than an hour. Samaritan Medical Center has had a similar program in place.

“We are very pleased to support our partners’ efforts with COVID by making these pulse oximeters available to them and, thereby, to their patients,” Erika Flint, FDRHPO executive director, said in a statement. “Now, even more health care providers across the tri-county region can give their patients the ability to monitor at home with the hope of empowering them to seek care at the right time and the right place.”

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Get Your Body Moving to Put the Brakes on Early Parkinson’s, Study Says

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A new study suggests that people with early-stage Parkinson’s disease who regularly got one to two hours of moderate exercise twice a week, like walking or gardening, may have less trouble balancing, walking, and doing daily activities later.

Researchers found that those who exercised regularly over five years did better on cognitive tests and had slower progression of the disease in several aspects.

“Our results are exciting, because they suggest it may never be too late for someone with Parkinson’s to start an exercise program to improve the course of their disease,” said study author Kazuto Tsukita, MD, of Kyoto University in Japan and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “That’s because we found that to slow progression of the disease, it was more important for people with Parkinson’s to maintain an exercise program than it was to be active at the beginning of the disease.”

The study looked at 237 people with early-stage Parkinson’s. They had an average age of 63 and were followed by researchers for up to six years.

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Exercise Alters Brain Chemistry to Protect Aging Synapses, Study Finds

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When elderly people stay active, their brains have more of a class of proteins that enhances the connections between neurons to maintain healthy cognition, a UC San Francisco study has found.

This protective impact was found even in people whose brains at autopsy were riddled with toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

“Our work is the first that uses human data to show that synaptic protein regulation is related to physical activity and may drive the beneficial cognitive outcomes we see,” said Kaitlin Casaletto, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology and lead author on the study.

The beneficial effects of physical activity on cognition have been shown in mice but have been much harder to demonstrate in people.

Casaletto, a neuropsychologist and member of the Weill Institute for Neurosciences, worked with William Honer, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and senior author of the study, to leverage data from the Memory and Aging Project at Rush University in Chicago. That project tracked the late-life physical activity of elderly participants, who also agreed to donate their brains when they died.

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