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    Invisible illnesses to be highlighted at ‘The Picture of Health’ exhibit, May 29

    A photography exhibit highlighting invisible illnesses will be unveiled on Wednesday, May 29 at The Healthcare Galley, 3488 Brentwood Drive, Suites 102 & 103, Baton Rouge. The Picture of Health exhibit is produced by Leslie D. Rose, a Baton Rouge based photographer and writer who suffers with fibromyalgia. The exhibit features more than one dozen Baton Rougeans representing illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, autism, psoriatic arthritis, high blood pressure, and more.

    Through the art of photography, The Picture of Health, shows people in the manner in which they present themselves daily. Using a mixture of head shots, full body shots, and shots of the individual’s hands holding up a sign detailing their illness, the exhibit focuses on the perceived normalcy of people housed in ill bodies. The mission is to highlight invisible illness, elicit compassion, and promote education on a variety of health issues. The Picture of Health  (4)_edit

    Inspired by her own diagnosis journey with invisible illness, Rose wanted to create something that would help non-ill people better understand what “sick” really looks like. In 2014, she was misdiagnosed with anxiety disorder. A diagnosis she believed as her husband had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. After three years of trying to yoga and meditate the pain and fatigue away, she was hit with neuropathy so bad that she could not walk on her own for a full week. This began a yearlong second opinion process. During which, she began counseling sessions to cope with the unknown chronic pain and other associated symptoms, which was later revealed to be fibromyalgia. All of this has always been met with a huge lack of compassion, because rarely does she “look sick.”

    Being so closely touched by a variety of invisible illnesses and having been misdiagnosed, shining light on invisible illnesses of all kinds became a passion project for Rose. This is why she started an online support group for women of color suffering with chronic pain. But this wouldn’t be enough – she had to find a way to help other people understand invisible illnesses. At the top of September 2017, it was a simple Facebook post that asked people to comment with a selfie if they have invisible illnesses. Some 100 plus photos later, she knew the project in her head was much bigger than she could imagine, and so The Picture of Health was conceived.

    The one night only exhibit kickoff to be held on May 29 is sponsored by Rose’s activism-based arts organization, CreActiv, LLC, in partnership with Dr. Leone Elliott and The Healthcare Gallery. The exhibit is curated by April Baham. The event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will feature brief remarks from invisible illness warriors and medical professionals.

    ABOUT CreActiv, LLC

    CreActiv, LLC is an activism-based arts organization with the mission of promoting and producing programming that heightens awareness, raises funds, and/or supports important issues through the use of the arts and partnerships. The organization currently houses two programs Louisiana Artists for Puerto Rico and The Picture of Health.  Follow us on Facebook or Instagram@Picofhealthbr.

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    COMMENTARY: Getting to the heart of America’s diabetes crisis

    About 30 million Americans have diabetes, and an estimated 1.5 million more are diagnosed each year. More than 25 percent of seniors have diabetes, and minority populations are at the greatest risk of developing this disease. African Americans, for instance, have a 77 percent higher risk of developing diabetes compared to White Americans. Hispanic Americans have a 66 percent higher risk.

    Most meticulously monitor their blood sugar, as they know that failing to keep diabetes in check can damage the kidneys, eyes, and feet. But even so, about 50,000 Americans start dialysis each year because of diabetes-induced kidney failure. More than three million Americans with diabetes experience partial vision loss. And over 70,000 undergo limb amputations due to diabetic ulcers.

    The disease also threatens the heart. People living with diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop a heart problem — and up to four times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Yet half of people living with diabetes aren’t aware of this risk.

    That needs to change. Educating doctors and patients about the connection between diabetes and heart disease could save millions of lives and billions of dollars.

    Type 2 diabetes changes how the body processes glucose — a sugar found in foods. This results in chronically high levels of blood sugar, which can lead to life-threatening health problems.

    People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to be hospitalized because of heart problems. And an estimated 68 percent of people with diabetes age 65 or older lose their lives to heart disease.

    People with diabetes also often develop high levels of bad cholesterol, low levels of good cholesterol, and high triglycerides — a situation that is often associated with coronary heart disease. And many struggling with diabetes are also obese, which puts the heart at greater risk.

    The combination of diabetes and cardiovascular disease is a major driver of healthcare spending. Diabetes alone costs our nation $245 billion a year in medical spending and lost productivity. Heart complications account for a quarter of the medical costs.

    Raising awareness of this diabetes-heart connection can motivate change that America needs to chip away at the increasing burden of chronic disease.

    Medical professionals play a crucial role in educating people about the diabetes-heart connection, recommending changes needed to manage diabetes, protect the heart, and following progress.

    People with diabetes and their families play a role, too — supporting healthier, active lifestyles, tracking and managing glucose levels, asking their healthcare providers about diabetes and heart health, and following through on treatment recommendations.

    Policymakers can also help. State and federal funds are used to educate the public about diabetes and heart disease. Making sure that efforts to address diabetes or cardiovascular disease effectively raise awareness of the linkage between them would spark impactful action.

    Getting to the heart of America’s diabetes crisis is long overdue. It’s time to make the diabetes-heart connection and save millions of lives and dollars in the process.

    By Ken Thorpe 
    Kenneth E. Thorpe is a professor of health policy at Emory University and chairman of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.

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    Medicare can help patients manage chronic illnesses

    Caring for yourself when you have a chronic illness like diabetes or heart disease is hard work. When you have more than one such illness, it can sometimes seem overwhelming.

    Seventy percent of Louisiana residents with Medicare have at least two chronic conditions. They often must juggle visits to several doctors, as well as the separate trips for follow-up tests. Then they must make sure they’re taking the right medications at the right times.

    Managing a number of chronic illnesses all at once can quickly become a full-time job. Unless it’s done right, you can compromise your quality of life and possibly increase your risk of a long-term disability or an earlier-than-expected death.

    That’s why Medicare is encouraging your health care providers to work together more closely to coordinate the treatment of your chronic conditions, so that you can spend less time sitting in medical offices and more time doing whatever you enjoy.

    To keep you healthy, Medicare has expanded a benefit called chronic care management. It provides higher payments to doctors and other providers to help you live with chronic disease.

    Through this benefit, your health care practitioner will assist you in keeping track of your medical history, your medications and all of the other health care providers you see. You’ll receive a comprehensive care plan that outlines your treatments and goals.

    You’ll also have 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week access to health care professionals for urgent needs from the comfort of your home. Does that sound like something that might interest you?

    To qualify for chronic care management services, you must be enrolled in Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service program, or you must be in the Medicaid program and receiving Medicare benefits. You also must have at least two chronic illnesses that pose a serious threat.

    The list of eligible diseases includes asthma, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, hepatitis, heart failure, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, schizophrenia and stroke, among others.

    If you think you might benefit, ask your doctor to explain the various services you’d receive, such as:

    • At least 20 minutes a month of chronic care management services
    • Personalized assistance from a dedicated health care professional who will work with you to create your care plan
    • Coordination of care between your pharmacy, specialists, testing centers, hospitals and more
    • Phone check-ins between visits to keep you on track
    • 24/7 emergency access to a health care professional
    • Expert assistance with setting and meeting your health goals

    Your out-of-pocket cost for chronic care management will be the same as your share for other Medicare Part B services, so you may have a deductible or co-payment. But if you have Medigap or retiree supplemental health insurance, you may not have to pay those out-of-pocket expenses.

    Also, chronic care management can help you avoid the need for more costly services. By acting now and managing your health, you may be able to head off hospitalization and more serious treatment in the future.

    Chronic care management means having a continuous relationship with a dedicated health care professional who knows you and your history, provides personal attention and helps you make the best choices for your health. For more about the program, call Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 or visit http://go.cms.gov/ccm.

    Navigating your way through the health care system can often be bewildering and time-consuming. Medicare’s chronic care benefit gives you and your loved ones the assistance you need to manage your medical conditions so that you can focus on the things you love.

    If that sounds right for you, talk with your doctor or nurse about the program.

    By Bob Moos
    Southwest public affairs officer for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

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    The Diabetic Kitchen to host 1st International 5K Walk/Run for a Cure of Diabetes, Alzheimer’s

    Members of The Diabetic Kitchen and the Village Members have teamed up to host a 5K Walk/Run to promote a greater awareness of Diabetes health and wellness, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Coteau, La. The Run will begin and end at 7913 Champa Avenue, in the Lanexang Village.

    “Both groups realized that we’re facing an alarming increase in Diabetes and Diabetic-related illnesses by far too many family members and friends. This collaboration resulted in the opening of a door to a partnership. As a result, we formed an Information, Education, and Hope-Filled Outreach Pocket of Help for our communities and this 5K Walk/Run is an attempt to keep more and better interest in health and health care issues,” said Nathaniel Mitchell Sr., founder/CEO of The Diabetic Kitchen.

    The Event will begin with:
    Registration…………………………………7:00 am
    Prayer and Warm-up…………………….8:15 am
    Walk Begin………………………………….8:30 am

    Cost:
    Adults 18 and Over………………………$15.00
    Youth 12 – 18 Years Old………………..$10.00
    Teams of Five……………………………..$40.00
    Free for Youth 11 Years and Younger
    Booth Space………………………………..$20.00

    Contact: The Diabetic Kitchen, 337-519-3010

    ONLINE: www.thediabetickitchen.org
    The Diabetic Kitchen on Facebook

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    Time to get SMART, set goals addressing diabetes

    Diabetes takes a disproportional interest in the minority community and one Baton Rouge area mental health professional thinks it’s time for the community to return that interest with deliberate game plans aimed at limiting the devastation caused by this chronic-disease killer.

    Charles Martin

    Charles Martin

    Charles Martin, Capital City Health Center director of behavior health, has both professional and personal viewpoints regarding the challenges of diabetes. His parents and grandparents were insulin-dependent and he is recovering from a diabetes-related limb amputation. Even when the challenges seem great, Martin invokes the daily prescription of NFL coach Chip Kelly: Win the day.
    Instead of simply resolving to turn the tide on diabetes, Martin encourages another tactic: Goal setting.

    “We people living with diabetes may have the fear that we will be gun-ho in January with everyone else making New Year’s resolutions,” Martin said. “But then, are we going to burn ourselves out?”
    “We start fast and we fizz quickly, but it goes back to Chip Kelly and that motto ‘Win the day.’ We are just going to take it one day at a time. It goes back to this attitude that this is something that we have to do daily. When we think about renewing the mind, we should be reminded that our prayers ask ‘give us this day, our DAILY bread.’”

    Martin encourages the ‘attitude of daily’ as a tool in diabetes management. “We must remember that we are consistently inconsistent,” he said. “The goal is to be consistently consistent. To do that, we must take it one day at a time and try to max out that day.”

    10 black_hands_testingThis deadly opponent packs a daunting record against Blacks who are greatly disproportionately affected by diabetes. More than 13 percent of all Blacks above the age of 20 are living with diabetes. In addition, Blacks are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.
    Diabetes is one disease that can spawn serious complications or makes a person susceptible to related conditions. Blacks are significantly more likely to suffer from the diabetes complications of blindness, kidney disease and amputations.

    No matter how great the challenge, Martin said setting goals helps properly address the fear. “A goal is just a tool to put you to work,” he said. “It puts me in charge!”

    Good health is important, but it will not just happen. SMART Goals provide a road map to success because those goals are Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

    If you want to accomplish a task, you set a plan, you set deadlines and you take action. Most people are familiar with SMART goals in the workplace, but they also apply to health. For example, let’s say you wanted to an A1C of 7.5, but your level is now 11. It would be unrealistic to say you wanted reduce your A1C to 11 in next month. It would be more realistic to set up a SMART goal:
    • Specific – I will decrease my average fasting blood sugar by 2 points each week. 10 SMART-goals
    • Measureable – I will keep track of blood sugar levels three times daily so I can track my
    progress towards my goal.
    • Attainable – Is the goal attainable for me? Your diabetes care team should be consulted about ways to reduce your A1C and risk of complications.
    • Realistic – Is the goal realistic for me? Lowering one’s blood sugar is a great goal, but drastic drops can increase changes of hyperglycemia.
    • Timely – I will make an appointment with my care team every three months in 2016 to evaluate my A1C with hopes to start 2017 near 7.5.

    Other goals that will impact blood sugar control include getting regular and sufficient exercise, gaining or losing weight, following a diabetes nutrition plan, and being more compliant to medication schedules.

    Diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications in minority communities. Good diabetes management, however, can help reduce risks, but many people are not aware that they have diabetes until they develop one of its complications.
    Martin warns that even those with the best goal-related intentions can face the obstacles of anxiety and depression. Anxiety can feed the overwhelming fear of failing to control one’s diabetes. “It is the fear that I’m not going to reach my goal so I stop before I even get started,” he said.

    It is important to know the warning signs of depression and plan ahead to combat it. “Exercise does help with depression,” Martin said. “Take a walk. If you are bound to the inside, use can goods to do arm curls. You will feel better if you make efforts to get more exercise.”
    “We often get so depressed that we isolate ourselves and we don’t have the social connections that we need. If you are aware of the possible pitfalls of depression, you are able to make a plan and incorporate that into your ‘I’m going to win the day.’”

    The counselor puts himself in the classroom in which he is teaching. In this calendar year, he will attempt to achieve tighter blood sugar control and with the aid of physical therapy, learn to walk using a prosthetic limb. There will be 365 days in his year, but his mantra will remain “win the day.”

    By Frances Y. Spencer
    Special to The Drum

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    Pill could deliver insulin without the paIn

    Researchers are developing an insulin pill that could soon offer a pain-free blood sugar management option to people with diabetes.

    “With diabetes, there’s a tremendous need for oral delivery,” said Samir Mitragotri, professor in the chemical engineering department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who specializes in targeted drug delivery. “People take insulin several times a day and delivery by needles is a big challenge.”

    More than 29 million individuals in the United States have undiagnosed or diagnosed diabetes, according to 2014 estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. Many of these people require regular insulin shots.

    A diabetes pill under development could do away with needles by delivering insulin via a capsule filled with mucoadhesive patches. ‘People take insulin several times a day and delivery by needles is a big challenge,’ said Samir Mitragotri.

    Blacks are disproportionately affected by diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

    Some 13.2 percent of all Blacks aged 20 years or older have diagnosed diabetes. Blacks are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non Hispanic whites, the ADA reported.

    For those who don’t like needles, the discomfort injections can pose is a huge barrier to compliance, said Amrita Banerjee, a postdoctoral researcher in Mitragotri’s lab. “It can lead to mismanagement of treatment and complications that lead to hospitalization.”

    A pill could circumvent the discomfort associated with the needle while potentially providing a more effective dose, researchers said.

    “When you deliver insulin by injection, it goes first through the peripheral bloodstream and then to blood circulation in the liver,” Mitragotri said. Oral delivery would take a more direct route, and, from a physiological point of view, a better one.

    While oral medications to help the body produce insulin have been around for a while, a pill that delivers insulin remains a highly sought goal of diabetes medicine. The main obstacle to its development has been getting the medication past the hostile proteolytic environment of the stomach and intestine without destroying the protein itself.

    In the case of the new pill, the key is a combination of enteric-coated capsules and insulin-loaded mucoadhesive polymer patches that were optimized by Banerjee as part of her research. The new pill has demonstrated its ability to survive stomach acids with the protection of the enteric-coated capsule and deliver its payload to the small intestine.

    There, the capsule opens up to release the patches that adhere to the intestinal wall, preventing access of proteolytic enzymes to insulin and, with the aid of a permeation enhancer, depositing insulin that can pass through to the blood.

    “This is the first essential step in showing that these patches can deliver insulin,” Mitragotri says, adding that the concept still needs to undergo additional stages of testing and improvement before it can be considered as a viable treatment for diabetes.

    The drug-loaded mucoadhesive patches show early promise for other forms of therapy, as well.

    “We can deliver many proteins that are currently injected,” Mitrago said, adding that other protein-based therapies such as growth hormones, antibodies, and vaccines could potentially be put into patch form for painless delivery and improved patient compliance.

    The researchers presented their findings at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists’ annual meeting and exposition. The National Institutes of Health funded the work.

    By Sonia Fernandez
    Contributing Writer
    University of California Santa Barbara

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