Avoid Medical Bill Sticker Shock


Before Lisa Beach, an assistant vice president for an Austin, Texas, credit union, had surgery for severe back pain two years ago, she did everything she could think of to make sure she wouldn’t have to pay a lot out of pocket. “I wanted to know the names of anyone who would have any kind of involvement in my surgery,” she says. Then she ran the names by her insurance company, Aetna, to make sure the care would be covered. In spite of her diligence, she received a $1,050 bill for services provided by an out-of-network doctor who, it turns out, wasn’t even in the hospital during her surgery. That doctor had simply provided specialized equipment used during the operation. Aetna refused Beach’s appeal, she says, so she went straight to the equipment provider. They agreed to drop the bill to $700—but only if she paid that day. She handed …

+ View Comments (0) Categories: Staying Healthy, Uncategorized, Useful Medical Info Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sleeping 101


When you fall asleep at night, your brain and body don’t just shut down. As you rest, your body maintains its most basic functions like circulating blood and breathing steadily. Recently, researchers have been curious about is what this rest period really does for our bodies. There are still some unanswered questions about sleep, but the many measurable health benefits prove a full nights sleep is worth a whole lot! What Is Going on During Sleep? There are five different stages of sleep that you cycle through. The first, stage 1, is a very light sleep during which your eyes and muscles begin to move more slowly. In stage 2, your eyes stop moving, and your brain activity begins to decrease. Since stage 1 and 2 are light sleep, and it is very easy to be woken up. In stages 3 and 4 of sleep your muscles completely relax and …

+ View Comments (0) Categories: Staying Healthy, Uncategorized, Useful Medical Info Tags: , , , , , , ,

Don’t Be Fooled By Coconut Water and Other New Sports Drinks


Plain old bottled water is sharing more shelf space these days with flavored and fortified drinks. The labels on these drinks say they contain added electrolytes, minerals that help regulate muscle function and water balance which can be lost during long intense workouts, or suggest that they pack the benefits of fruits and vegetables by providing vitamins. But are those drinks more hydrating (and healthier) than regular water? It’s unlikely, our experts say. Few people exercise so vigorously that they need to replenish electrolytes. And Leslie Bonci, a dietitian and director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says that “any liquid is going to be hydrating, even coffee. Do vitamins and minerals add to hydration? No. What’s hydrating is the fluid.” “Do vitamins and minerals add to hydration? No. What’s hydrating is the fluid.” Most Americans simply don’t need fortified drinks. More than 90 percent of …

+ View Comments (0) Categories: Exercise and nutrition, Staying Healthy, Uncategorized, Useful Medical Info Tags: , , , , , ,

Is it OK to buy medicine online?


Almost 60 percent of those surveyed last June by the Consumer Reports National Research Center said they’re trying to cut health care costs. Many of them said they get bargains on medications, for example, by buying them from online pharmacies outside the U.S. In fact, based on the survey, the center estimates that 1.9 million Americans buy medications that way. It’s not terribly risky to order a toaster online, but it is when you fill prescriptions through Internet pharmacies. Cyberspace is rife with sellers peddling illegal and even toxic products, often through websites that appear to be authentic. “The vast majority of websites selling prescription drugs are not legitimate,” says Carmen Catizone, D.Ph., executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Last June, for example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took action against more than 1,050 sites, seizing products being sold fraudulently as FDA-approved prescription drugs …

+ View Comments (0) Categories: Staying Healthy, Uncategorized, Useful Medical Info Tags: , ,

The Truth About Vaccines


We answer four common questions about the shots that grown-ups need, but don’t always get Do you skip vaccines because you don’t think you still need them or you’re worried about their safety? Many of us aren’t getting the protection we need, according to infectious-disease experts. “Each year, at least 30,000 people die from complications related to vaccine-preventable diseases,” says Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser. “Getting the right shots doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get sick, but it will significantly improve your odds.” Here are answers to four common questions about vaccines: I was fully vaccinated as a child. Why do I need more vaccines now? Over time you may lose the ability to fend off diseases you were vaccinated against earlier. Some adult vaccines are boosters, building your immunity against those illnesses. Others protect against diseases that are more common in adulthood All adults should …

+ View Comments (0) Categories: Staying Healthy, Travel, Uncategorized, Useful Medical Info Tags: , , , , , ,

Is it still safe to take Advil, Aleve, and other pain relievers?


A new warning by the Food and Drug Administration might make you think twice before reaching for pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and generic) and naproxen (Aleve and generic). The agency says these drugs, also known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, have a small, increased risk of triggering a heart attack or stroke, even if you don’t have an existing heart condition. And, that’s true even within the first few weeks of taking the drugs. Your risk is also upped if you take the medications for extended periods of time and if you take larger doses. The safety alert further strengthens advice our CR Best Buy Drug analysis has long offered. Besides ibuprofen and naproxen, the warning also applies to prescription NSAIDs, such as celecoxib (Celebrex),diclofenac (Cambia, Voltaren, and others), and meloxicam (Mobic). Aspirin is not included in the FDA’s warning. For a complete list, see the FDA’s …

+ View Comments (0) Categories: Staying Healthy, Uncategorized, Useful Medical Info Tags: , , , , , , ,

Back-to-School Tips to Keep Kids Healthy and Safe


Back-to-school prep means more than a trip to the office supply store. Help kids stay strong, healthy and safe this school year by putting wellness front and center. “Thinking about back-to-school now can help parents keep kids on track for a healthy summer and start to school,” says Dr. Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics. With that in mind, Hassink recommends taking the following steps. Ease into the School Schedule Ease the back-to-school transition by keeping bedtime and meals scheduled during the summer and adjusting timing as school approaches. If your child has been going to bed later than usual, begin adjusting his or her bedtime earlier toward the end of summer. Depending on age, children and teens need between 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep nightly. For young children, arranging to see their new classroom and meet their new teacher before school starts can …

+ View Comments (0) Categories: Exercise and nutrition, Staying Healthy, Uncategorized Tags: , , , , ,

Tips to Help You Avoid Surplus Fat as You Age


There are many ways you can stay fit and promote a long, healthy life. And you probably know about some of them, particularly those habits that are widely discussed in the media and by doctors. However, scientists have recently made new discoveries that can help you activate weight loss while gaining control over deadly aging processes. Beyond eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise, how can you facilitate a healthy body weight? Your Body’s Enzymes Can Help New research indicates that when certain enzymes in your body are functioning properly, certain aging processes, such as weight gain, can be slowed or even reversed. One enzyme, in particular, known as AMPK, is being highlighted by medical researchers, Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme found within every cell, serves as your body’s master regulating switch, determining body fat composition and how long you will live. When switched “on,” AMPK …

+ View Comments (0) Categories: Exercise and nutrition, Staying Healthy, Uncategorized, Useful Medical Info Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tips to Get Faster, Stronger and More Flexible


If you work out a couple times a week, you are on the right path to good health. But experts say this can and should be just the beginning of your fitness journey. “Our bodies are designed to be fast, powerful and agile,” says Paul “Coach” Wade, fitness expert and author of the new book “Explosive Calisthenics.” “However, modern Americans have become the slowest, least agile members of our species in all history.” Wade says a vanishing percent of people even attempt to unlock their body’s full athletic potential. To help, he is offering tips to take your overall fitness to the next level. Ditch the Excuses Getting in great shape requires consistency, and it’s all too easy to make excuses for missing a workout. Whether you’re always on the road or can’t afford to renew your gym membership, Wade says such excuses don’t hold water. “While modern training methods …

+ View Comments (0) Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

News Review From Harvard Medical School — More Intense Exercise May Extend Life


Working up more of a sweat when you exercise may help you live longer, two new studies find. And for most people more vigorous exercise appears to be safe, a third study suggests. All of the studies focused on middle-aged or older adults. One included more than 204,000 people. Researchers kept track of them for more than 6 years. They were divided into groups based on how much of their exercise was vigorous, such as running, compared with moderate activity, such as brisk walking. Those who said up to 30% of their exercise was vigorous were 9% less likely to die during the study than those who did no vigorous activity. The death rate was 13% lower for those who did more than 30% vigorous exercise. A second study had similar results. The journal JAMA Internal Medicine published both of them. The journal Circulation published the third study, which looked …

+ View Comments (0) Categories: Exercise and nutrition, Staying Healthy, Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,