Longer Work Hours = Higher Heart Disease Risk

A new study, published by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has concluded what many of us already suspected, namely that working long hours (defined at 46+ hours a week) results in an increase in cardiovascular disease risk.

Interestingly enough the study also found that the risk is lowest for workers working between 40-45 meaning that working less than 40 hours a week isn’t necessarily any better for you. Workers who worked 30 + hours saw a slight increase until they reached 40 hours after which the risk decreased until 40 after which it decreased until it started to rise again till 45.

The study involved 1,900 participants over the course of 10 years and concluded that every hour over 45 hours a week resulted in an addition 1% increase in risk.

Conclusion? Giving your boss more than 46 hours a week could actually cost you years, not just hours.

Get the Facts about Ebola

A few years back, Barry Glassner wrote “The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things. It’s a good read and one that most of us could benefit from reading.

The premise of the book is that media is in the business of getting viewers. In order to do that, news has to be sensational and shocking. What this means is that they take a few isolated incidents and turn them into sensational news stories designed to frighten us so that we’ll keep tuning in to find out more.

I bring this up because of the Ebola scare going around right now.

The best way to calm the fears and put things into perspective is to get the facts. Just because a couple of people who were recently in Africa have contracted Ebola does not mean that we need to go into panic mode. The Ebola Virus Disease (EBD) is only contracted through bodily contact and transmitted through bodily fluids. It can also be contracted through contact with certain species of animals that are carriers (fruit bats, monkeys and apes notably) or by eating their raw meat. I don’t know about you but I haven’t eaten any raw fruit bat meat recently so I’m pretty sure I don’t have a lot to worry about on that count.

Get the facts on the Ebola Virus Disease from the World Health Organization website. Knowledge is power when it comes to not loosing sleep worrying about things like Ebola.

Arizona’s “Kissing Bug” isn’t as sweet as it sounds


In Mexico and South America, the “kissing bug” transmits the Chagas disease which can be fatal and accounts for approximately 21,000 deaths annually.

Fortunately, the kissing bug doesn’t seem to like flying North of the border… except for Arizona.

Unfortunately, the kissing bug, like mosquitoes, suck blood.

Fortunately, the Arizona variety doesn’t seem to have inherited its southern cousin’s nasty habit of defecating on the incision  he has just made when he sucked blood. That’s how Chagas disease infects. The person who has been bitten wakes up and scratches the spot, infecting the blood and contracting the disease. Apparently, our Arizona variety prefers to eat and then go elsewhere to defecate.

Arizona residents aren’t out of the woods yet though because repeated bites from this insect most often cause the victim to develop a reaction. The first bite isn’t a big deal but by the third or fourth one, the victim can end up in the hospital.

Authority suggest protecting against the insects by keeping doors and windows closed after sunset, having screens and replacing all outdoor lights with lights that do not attract flying bugs.

It’s especially important to avoid being bitten again once a kissing bug has “kissed” you.

March Kidney Disease Awareness Month

Protect Your Kidneys: Control Diabetes, Blood Pressure

March is World Kidney month, a day dedicated to raising awareness of kidney disease and the importance of its prevention and early detection.

Kidney disease damages your kidneys, preventing them from cleaning your blood as well as they should.

This damage can cause wastes to build up in your body and lead to other health problems, including heart disease, anemia, and bone disease.

Chronic kidney disease eventually can cause kidney failure if it is not treated.

If you do have the disease, it’s important to be diagnosed early. Treatment can slow down the disease, and prevent or delay kidney failure. Because chronic kidney disease often develops slowly and with few symptoms, many people with the condition don’t realize they’re sick until the disease is advanced and requires dialysis. Blood and urine tests are the only ways to tell if you have chronic kidney disease.

Tips for Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy

Steps to help keep your kidneys healthy include the following:

· Keep blood pressure below 130/80 mm/Hg.

· Stay in your target cholesterol range.

· Eat less salt and salt substitutes.

· Eat healthy foods.

· Stay physically active.

· Take your medications as prescribed.

If you have diabetes, take these steps, too:

· Meet blood sugar targets as often as you can.

· Have an A1c test at least twice a year, but ideally up to four times a year. An A1c test measures the average level of blood sugar over the past three months.

If your blood pressure is high, check it regularly and get it under control to make sure your kidneys remain healthy. Talk to your doctor about medicines to lower your blood pressure.

Helping to prevent type 2 diabetes is another important step in preventing kidney disease. Recent studies have shown that overweight people at higher risk for type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight, or 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. You can do that by eating healthier and getting 150 minutes of physical activity each week

Who Is More Likely to Develop Kidney Disease?

In addition to diabetes and high blood pressure, other conditions that increase the risk of kidney disease include heart disease, obesity, older age, high cholesterol, and a family history of chronic kidney disease. A physical injury can also cause kidney disease.

Kidney disease is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for the death of more than 50,000 people in 2010. More than 20 million (greater than 10 percent) of U.S. adults have chronic kidney disease and most of them are not aware of their condition .

More than 35 percent of adults with diabetes have chronic kidney disease. High blood sugar (blood glucose) and high blood pressure increase the risk that chronic kidney disease will eventually lead to kidney failure. If you have diabetes, controlling blood sugar and blood pressure reduces the risk of developing kidney disease or may slow its progression .

Injuries and Infections Can Damage Your Kidneys

Infections such as those affecting the bladder and kidney can damage your kidneys, too . Call your health care provider if you have any of these signs of bladder infection:

· Cloudy or bloody urine

· Pain or burning when you urinate

· An urgent need to urinate often

Also, speak with your health care provider if you have any of these signs of kidney infections:

· Back pain

· Chills

· Fever

Chronic Kidney Disease Could Lead to Dialysis or a Transplant

The final stage of chronic kidney disease is kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease. People with kidney failure need dialysis, in which blood is cleaned through a machine, or a new, healthy kidney through transplantation.

In 2009, more than 110,000 people in the United States began treatment for kidney failure. For every ten new cases, seven had diabetes or hypertension listed as the primary cause. In that same year, more than 560,000 people in the United States were living on chronic dialysis or with a kidney transplant. Among people on hemodialysis due to kidney failure, the leading causes of hospitalization are cardiovascular disease and infection .

Take steps to keep your kidneys healthy. If you have a higher risk of kidney disease, talk to your doctor about getting tested.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition in which the kidneys are damaged and cannot filter blood as well as possible. This damage can cause wastes to build up in the body and lead to other health problems, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), anemia, and bone disease. People with early CKD tend not to feel any symptoms. The only ways to detect CKD are through a blood test to estimate kidney function, and a urine test to assess kidney damage. CKD is usually an irreversible and progressive disease and can lead to kidney failure, also called End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), over time if it is not treated. Once detected, CKD can be treated through medication and lifestyle changes to slow down the disease progression, and to prevent or delay the onset of kidney failure. However, the only treatment options for kidney failure are dialysis or a kidney transplant.

CKD is common among adults in the United States.

More than 10% of people, or more than 20 million, aged 20 years or older in the United States have CKD.

· CKD is more common among women than men.

· More than 35% of people aged 20 years or older with diabetes have CKD.

· More than 20% of people aged 20 years or older with hypertension have CKD.

Percent with CKD among adult U.S. population by age, sex, and race/ethnicity.

Risk factors for developing CKD

Adults with diabetes or hypertension are at an increased risk of developing CKD. Other risk factors for developing CKD include CVD, obesity, elevated cholesterol, and a family history of CKD. The risk of developing CKD increases with age largely because risk factors for kidney disease become more common as one ages.

Risk factors for progression of CKD

Inadequately controlled diabetes and hypertension increase the risk of progression of CKD to kidney failure. Repeated episodes of acute kidney injury from a variety of causes (e.g., infections, drugs, or toxins injurious to the kidney) can also contribute to progression of CKD to kidney failure, especially in the elderly. While CKD is more common among women, men with CKD are 50% more likely than women to progress to kidney failure.

Important health consequences of CKD

Cardiovascular disease

CKD is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, heart failure, heart rhythm disturbances, and strokes. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease that require careful attention in people with CKD include tobacco use, uncontrolled high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, excessive weight, and elevated cholesterol.

Kidney failure

Kidney failure or ESRD occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to provide waste removal functions for the body. At this point, dialysis or kidney transplantation becomes necessary for survival.

· About 110,000 patients in the United States started treatment for ESRD in 2007.

· Leading causes of ESRD are diabetes and hypertension. In 2006, 7 out of 10 new cases of ESRD in the United States had diabetes or hypertension listed as the primary cause. Less common causes include glomerulonephritis, hereditary kidney disease, and malignancies such as myeloma.

· Incidence of ESRD is greater among adults older than 65 years.

· African Americans were nearly four times more likely to develop ESRD than whites in 2007. However, this disparity in ESRD incidence has narrowed from 1998 to 2005.

· Hispanics have 1.5 times the rate of kidney failure compared to non-Hispanic whites.

· Between 2000 and 2007, the adjusted incidence of ESRD due to diabetes has increased by less than 1% and the adjusted incidence of glomerulonephritis has fallen by 21%, suggesting possible improvement in the clinical management of this condition. In contrast, the adjusted incidence of ESRD due to hypertension has increased by 8% between 2000 and 2007.


· Premature death from both cardiovascular disease and from all causes is higher in adults with CKD compared to adults without CKD. In fact, individuals with CKD are 16 to 40 times more likely to die than to reach ESRD.

Other health consequences

· The kidneys have many functional roles, including fluid and electrolyte balance, waste removal, acid-base balance, bone health, and stimulation of red blood cell production. CKD can be associated with fluid overload, sodium and potassium imbalances, bone and mineral disorders, anemia, and reduced quality of life. Additionally, adults with CKD typically have other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and other cardiovascular diseases

Information from the CDC and WebMD

Health and Safety Alert- May National Lyme Disease Awareness

It’s Spring Time to Prevent Lyme Disease

May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month

When you’re outside this spring and summer, prevent tick bites and reduce your risk of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases by following these tips.

Though Lyme disease cases have been reported in nearly every state, cases are reported from the infected person’s county of residence, not the place where they were infected.

Ticks that transmit Lyme disease can take 3 or more days to feed fully. If the tick is infected, the chances of transmission increases with time, from 0% at 24 hours, 12% at 48 hours, 79% at 72 hours and 94% at 96 hours. This is the reason it is important to conduct tick checks after working or recreating in tick infected areas, removing any ticks you find promptly

More cases of Lyme disease are reported than any other vector-borne disease in the United States. There were 29,959 confirmed cases and 8509 probable cases of Lyme disease in the United States in 2011; most of these cases are reported from the Northeast and upper Midwest.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. People become infected with the Lyme disease bacteria when they are bitten by an infected blacklegged tick.

As we start spending more time outdoors during spring and into summer, we have to be aware of the risk of tick bites. Gardening, camping, hiking, and just playing outdoors are all great spring and summertime activities, but make tick protection part of your outdoor plans as well.

Immature ticks (larvae and nymphs) are so small that they can be difficult to see. However, all stages of ticks need to feed on blood to continue on to the next stagestherefore these tiny ticks can be an important threat.

Ticks also feed on mammals and birds, which play a role in maintaining ticks and maintaining the Lyme disease bacteria. Ticks (including species other than the blacklegged ticks) can also transmit diseases other than Lyme disease, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, erlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Colorado tick fever, and Powassan encephalitis.

Fortunately there are several tactics you and your family can use to prevent tick bites and reduce your risk of tick-borne disease.

Protect Yourself from Tick Bites

Know where to expect ticks. Blacklegged ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. You may come into contact with ticks during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through vegetation such as leaf litter or shrubs. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails.

Use a repellent with DEET (on skin or clothing) or permethrin (on clothing and gear). Products containing permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear which can remain protective through several washings. Repellents containing 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin, and they can protect up to several hours. Always follow product instructions! Parents should apply repellents to their children, taking care to avoid application to hands, eyes, and mouth.

· For detailed information about using DEET on children, see West Nile Virus: What You Need to Know about Mosquito Repellent.

· For detailed information about tick prevention and control, see Lyme Disease Prevention and Control.

· For detailed information geared to outdoor workers, see NIOSH Safety and Health Topic: Tick-borne Diseases.

Perform Daily Tick Checks

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Conduct a body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas by searching your entire body for ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find. Take special care to check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:


· Under the arms

· In and around the ears

· Inside belly button

· Back of the knees

· In and around all head and body hair

· Between the legs

· Around the waist

Check your clothing and pets for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing and pets. Both should be examined carefully, and any ticks that are found should be removed. Placing clothes into a dryer on high heat effectively kills ticks.

What to Do If You Are Bitten by a Tick

Remove an attached tick using fine-tipped tweezers as soon as you notice it. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small. But to be safe, watch for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease such as rash or fever, and see a healthcare provider if these develop

Your risk of acquiring a tick-borne illness depends on many factors, including where you live, what type of tick bit you, and how long the tick was attached. If you become ill after a tick bite, see a healthcare provider.

Tick Removal

If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.

How to remove a tick

1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.

2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.

3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible–not waiting for it to detach.


If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.

You can create tick-safe zones in your yard

Image courtesy Kirby Stafford III, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

· Modify your landscaping to createTick-Safe Zones.” It’s pretty simple. Keep patios, play areas and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation. Regularly remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around your home, and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas (and away from you).

· Use a chemical control agent. Effective tick control chemicals are available for use by the homeowner, or they can be applied by a professional pest control expert. Even limited applications can greatly reduce the number of ticksa single springtime application of acaricide can reduce the population of ticks that cause Lyme disease by 68100%.

· Discourage deer. Deer are the main food source for adult ticks. Keep deer away from your home by removing plants that attract deer and constructing physical barriers that may help discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing ticks with them. Deer management has also been studied with regard to its impact on tick populations.

Prevent Ticks on Animals

Prevent family pets from bringing ticks into the home. Maintain your family pet under a veterinarian’s care. Two of the ways to get rid of ticks on dogs and cats are putting on tick medicine or using a tick collar. Be sure to use these products according to the package instructions.

Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease

If you had a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme disease or have recently traveled to an area where it occurs, and observe any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention!

Early localized stage (3-30 days post-tick bite)

  • Red, expanding rash called erythema migrans (EM)
  • Fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes

Some people may get these general symptoms in addition to an EM rash, but in others, these general symptoms may be the only evidence of infection.

Some people get a small bump or redness at the site of a tick bite that goes away in 1-2 days, like a mosquito bite. This is not a sign that you have Lyme disease. However, ticks can spread other organisms that may cause a different type of rash. For example, Southern Tick-associated Rash Illness (STARI) causes a rash with a very similar appearance.

Erythema migrans (EM) or “bull’s-eye” rash

  • Rash occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected persons1 and begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3-30 days (average is about 7 days).
  • Rash gradually expands over a period of several days, and can reach up to 12 inches (30 cm) across. Parts of the rash may clear as it enlarges, resulting in a bull’s-eye appearance.
  • Rash usually feels warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful.
  • EM lesions may appear on any area of the body.

Early disseminated stage (days to weeks post-tick bite)

Untreated, the infection may spread from the site of the bite to other parts of the body, producing an array of specific symptoms that may come and go, including:

  • Additional EM lesions in other areas of the body
  • Facial or Bell’s palsy (loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face)
  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness due to meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord)
  • Pain and swelling in the large joints (such as knees)
  • Shooting pains that may interfere with sleep
  • Heart palpitations and dizziness due to changes in heartbeat

Many of these symptoms will resolve over a period of weeks to months, even without treatment2.However, lack of treatment can result in additional complications, described below.

Bell’s (facial) palsy

Loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face is called facial or Bell’s palsy.

Late disseminated stage (months-to-years post-tick bite)

Approximately 60% of patients with untreated infection may begin to have intermittent bouts of arthritis, with severe joint pain and swelling. Large joints are most often affected, particularly the knees3. Arthritis caused by Lyme disease manifests differently than other causes of arthritis and must be distinguished from arthralgias (pain, but not swelling, in joints).

Up to 5% of untreated patients may develop chronic neurological complaints months to years after infection. These include shooting pains, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, and problems with short-term memory.

Lingering symptoms after treatment (post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome)

Approximately 10-20% of patients with Lyme disease have symptoms that last months to years after treatment with antibiotics5. These symptoms can include muscle and joint pains, cognitive defects, sleep disturbance, or fatigue. The cause of these symptoms is not known, but there is no evidence that these symptoms are due to ongoing infection with B. burgdorferi. This condition is referred to as Post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS). There is some evidence that PTLDS is caused by an autoimmune response, in which a person’s immune system continues to respond, doing damage to the bodys tissues, even after the infection has been cleared. Studies have shown that continuing antibiotic therapy is not helpful and can be harmful for persons with PTLDS.

Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome

Approximately 10 to 20% of patients treated for Lyme disease with a recommended 2-4 week course of antibiotics will have lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches. In some cases, these can last for more than 6 months. Although often called “chronic Lyme disease,” this condition is properly known as “Post-treatment Lyme disease Syndrome” (PTLDS).

The exact cause of PTLDS is not yet known. Most medical experts believe that the lingering symptoms are the result of residual damage to tissues and the immune system that occurred during the infection. Similar complications and “auto-immune” responses are known to occur following other infections, including Campylobacter (Guillain-Barre syndrome), Chlamydia (Reiter’s syndrome), and Strep Throat (rheumatic heart disease). In contrast, some health care providers tell patients that these symptoms reflect persistent infection with Borrelia burgdorferi. Recent animal studies have given rise to questions that require further research, and clinical studies to determine the cause of PTLDS in humans are ongoing.

Regardless of the cause of PTLDS, studies have not shown that patients who received prolonged courses of antibiotics do better in the long run than patients treated with placebo. Furthermore, long-term antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease has been associated with serious complications. The good news is that patients with PTLDS almost always get better with time; the bad news is that it can take months to feel completely well.

If you have been treated for Lyme disease and still feel unwell, see your doctor to discuss how to relieve your suffering. Your doctor may want to treat you in ways similar to patients who have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. This does not mean that your doctor is dismissing your pain or saying that you have these conditions. It simply means that the doctor is trying to help you cope with your symptoms using the best tools available.

You may be tempted to try treatments that are unproven or non-standard in order to feel better. Unfortunately, many fraudulent products claiming to treat “chronic Lyme disease” are available on the internet or through some providers. These products have not been shown to help and can be toxic and even deadly.

It is normal to feel overwhelmed by your ongoing symptoms. Some things that may help you manage your PTLDS include:

  • Check with your doctor to make sure that Lyme disease is not the only thing affecting your health.
  • Become well-informed. There is a lot of inaccurate information available, especially on the internet. Learn how to sort through this maze.
  • Track your symptoms. It can be helpful to keep a diary of your symptoms, sleep patterns, diet, and exercise to see how these influence your well being.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of rest.
  • Share your feelings. If your family and friends can’t provide the support you need, talk with a counselor who can help you find ways of managing your life during this difficult time. As with any illness, Lyme disease can affect you and your loved ones. It doesn’t mean that your symptoms are not real. It means that you are a human being who needs extra support in a time of need.

Information from the CDC, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and NM Dept of Health.

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau


9/11 Emergency Responders Suffering Asthma

According to a new article published by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, “The majority of WTC-exposed fire department rescue workers experienced a substantial decline in airflow over the first 12 months post-9/11These conditions include irritant induced asthma, non-specific chronic bronchitis, aggravated pre-existing obstructive lung disease (asthma or COPD), and bronchiolitis.

The most common respiratory symptom was a severe cough. The complaint is so common, in fact, that it has been given the name of “World Trade Center Cough Syndrome”. While the cough seems to decrease with time, the shortness of breath remains. “These conditions, which became apparent up to several months after September 11, 2001, are now chronic and will require long-term treatment.”

It is believed that the cause of the pulmonary problems experienced by emergency responders is due in large part to the cement dust that was in the air after the collapse of the towers. Cement is highly alkaline and the body generally responds “less effectively to alkaline chemical injuries than to acidic chemical injuries, because of the limited buffering capacity of blood and body fluids for substances of high pH.”

You can read more about the different types of pulmonary problems and the projected long-term treatments that they may require in the Special issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine Volume 54, Issue 9, pages 649-660, September 2011 or you can read the article “The evolving spectrum of pulmonary disease in responders to the World Trade Center tragedy” online.

Is your overtime killing you?

According to a new study, due to be released in the upcoming issue of “Heart” journal, the answer is “yes!” unless you are keeping physically fit. According to research, men who aren’t staying fit more than double their risk of heart disease if they work long hours. The article gives the following information:

  • Compared with men who worked less than 40 hours per week, unfit men who worked 41 to 45 hours a week were 59% more likely to die of heart disease, although they were not more likely to die of other causes.
  • Compared with unfit men, those who were physically fit and worked longer hours were 45% less likely to die of heart disease and 38% less likely to die of other causes.
  • Being both unfit and working more than 45 hours per week more than doubled a man’s risk of dying of heart disease compared with those who worked less than 40 hours per week.

Source: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=119510

Insect Borne Diseases

It may not feel like it, depending on where you like and the prevailing weather patterns, but spring is just around the corner and with it the yearly hatching of a host of insect that have lain dormant all winter. What this means is that the recurring threat of insect borne diseases, which we haven’t had to deal with as long as the temperatures were low enough, is about to break out again.

You only need to compare these two maps to see, for example, the spread of West Nile Disease:


The first map is the year 2000, the next one the year 2007.

Prepare and protect yourself through awareness. Ergodyne is offering a white paper to help you do just that.

Download the white paper “Insect-Borne Disease Overview: Lyme Disease / West Nile Virus” from Ergodyne’s website.

WHO launches new Global Network

This press release from the World Health Organization dated July 8, 2009

New network to combat noncommunicable diseases

8 JULY 2009 | GENEVA — Noncommunicable diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, cancers, diabetes, respiratory diseases and common injuries account for the vast majority of all global deaths, but because they are not yet included as priorities in the global development agenda, donors and international organizations have yet to pledge support to help developing countries address these leading health problems.

As the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) meets in Geneva this week to focus on global public health commitments, many health and development leaders will call upon the international development community to integrate indicators on noncommunicable diseases and injuries into the core Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) monitoring and evaluation system.

To support these efforts, WHO today announced the launch of a network of leading organizations and experts from around the world. The network will scale up action to combat noncommunicable diseases, strengthen global partnerships and help governments plan and implement measures to reduce the burden of these diseases.

The new Global Noncommunicable Disease Network (NCDnet) will unite currently fragmented efforts by bringing the cancer, cardiovascular, diabetes and respiratory communities together with tobacco control, healthy diets and physical activity advocates.

Focus on prevention and control

“Integrating the prevention of noncommunicable diseases and injuries into the national and global development agendas is not only achievable but also a priority for developing countries,” said Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. “The goals of the new network are to increase focus on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, to increase resource availability and to catalyse effective multi-stakeholder action at global and country levels.”

Strengthened by the support of the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and leading NGOs such as the World Heart Federation, the International Diabetes Federation and the International Union against Cancer, NCDnet will advocate for action to raise the priority accorded to noncommunicable diseases in development work at global and national levels.

“Noncommunicable diseases are a serious threat to global well-being,” said Richard Samans, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum. “They present a growing economic and social challenge for many developed and developing countries. At the World Economic Forum we are committed to working with WHO, and in collaboration with other international partners, to build an effective Global Noncommunicable Disease Network.”

Challenges for policy-makers

“The challenges policy-makers face include how to address the links between noncommunicable diseases and poverty, how to minimize the health and economic losses among the economically active population, and how to prepare for the pressures on health systems resulting from the growing numbers of people with noncommunicable diseases,” commented Joy Phumaphi, Vice-President of the Human Development Network of the World Bank.

“I want to highlight the glaring omission of noncommunicable diseases in the Millennium Development Goals. I believe that this is a serious omission and this anomaly should be corrected. It is in this light that I propose we seriously consider an MDG-plus which would set goals for noncommunicable diseases, as we have done for other public health challenges,” commented Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy of Guyana.

Noncommunicable diseases cause 38 million deaths annually and together with injuries are responsible for 70% of all global deaths, with 80% of these deaths occurring in low-income and middle-income countries. WHO forecasts that globally, deaths from noncommunicable diseases are likely to increase by 17% over the next 10 years, with the greatest increase projected in the African Region (27%) followed by the Eastern Mediterranean Region (25%).

For further information contact:

Janet Voute
Partnerships Adviser
WHO, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 5572
Mobile: +41 79 204 4216
E-mail: voutej@who.int

Menno van Hilten
External Relations Officer
WHO, Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 2675
Mobile: +41 79 457 0929
E-mail vanhiltenm@who.int

This week is National Heart Failure Awareness Week

This week, February 8 – 14 is National Heart Failure Awareness Week. Because most people who have the disease don’t know that they have it, it is important people to learn what the symptoms are and to schedule a medical check-up to have the problem diagnosed. That’s, in effect, what this awareness week is all about.

The symptoms to look for are:

Shortness of breath – Even with little to no exercise, you feel like you aren’t getting enough air.

Fast or heavy heart rate – Does your heart feel like it’s pounding and/or racing?

Coughing – A cough that just won’t go away

Swollen ankles or legs – This swelling is caused by the fluid retention that is typical of heart failure.

Loss of appetite – Consistently not hungry when you should be

Sudden, rapid weight gain – We all gain weight at times but if you see a rapid increase or a sudden increase, especially if you haven’t changed your dietary habits, then you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Nausea – Feeling queasy or sick to your stomach

Physical fatigue – Feeling overtired, especially a sudden onset of fatigue

While most of the above symptoms hit most of us at some time on another, if you start seeing more than one of these combined or if any of them hit suddenly, you need to make sure you get in and see a doctor. There is no cure for heart disease but changes in lifestyle, diet, exercise combined with medication can help you manage it and continue to lead a great life.