(Family Features) When it comes to disposing used household medical needles or sharps, safety is the point. Every day, millions of people around the United States use needles, lancets and syringes – otherwise known as sharps – to manage health conditions like diabetes, arthritis, cancer or auto-immune diseases from the comfort of their own homes or while on the go. Some commonly used medical sharps include:
- Needles – fine, slender, hollow pieces of metal, typically attached to syringes, used to inject medication under the skin or withdraw fluid from the body
- Lancets, also called “fingersticks” – often used by people with diabetes to get drops of blood for testing
- Auto injectors, including epinephrine pens – syringes pre-filled with fluid medication designed to be self-injected into the body
- Infusion sets – tubing systems with needles used to deliver drugs to the body
- Connection needles – needles that connect to a tube used to transfer fluids in and out of the body
Managing a health condition can be overwhelming enough, so learning how to dispose of used household sharps may not be top of mind for those who use them.
Even for sharps users looking for safe disposal resources, finding state or local regulations can be challenging, but safely disposing of household sharps is an important issue and can help prevent injury.
A resource like SafetyIsThePoint.org provides consumers with free resources and up-to-date information about how to safely dispose of their household used sharps. This resource helps connect sharps users with safe disposal options across the United States and offers state-specific disposal guides.
“Our years of research have shown that people want to do the right thing with their used household sharps, but they did not know where to turn for guidance,” said Bruce Taylor, senior director of government affairs and market access at Dexcom, one of the companies that supports the free public education resource. “SafetyIsThePoint.org takes the guesswork out of household sharps disposal by giving consumers easy instructions no matter where they live or travel.”
People who use sharps can often dispose of them at home. It’s as simple as 1-2-3:
- Place used household sharps in a strong, plastic container like a laundry detergent or bleach bottle.
- When the container is 75% full, seal it tightly with duct tape and label it “do not recycle.”
- Place the sealed container in regular household trash.
People in most areas of the United States can follow the steps above. In states or counties that do not allow household disposal, sharps users can use the ZIP code search function at SafetyIsThePoint.org to find local drop-off locations, such as household hazardous waste collection centers and drop boxes or supervised collection points.
To learn more about disposing of used needles and sharps safely, visit SafetyIsThePoint.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (woman at desk)
Safety Is The Point
5 heart health tips for the holidays
(Family Features) Food, drinks, gifts and time with family make the holidays a merry occasion for people across the country. However, all that celebrating can sometimes become a distraction from maintaining heart health.
In fact, the joys of the season can become marred for many as research shows an uptick in cardiac events and heart attack deaths during the final week of December. According to a study published in the American Heart Association journal, “Circulation,” more cardiac deaths occur on Dec. 25 than any other day of the year, followed by the second largest number on Dec. 26 and third largest on Jan. 1.
“The holidays are a busy, often stressful time for many of us,” said American Heart Association Chief Clinical Science Officer Mitchell S.V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., FAHA. “Routines are disrupted. We may tend to eat and drink more and exercise and relax less. We’re getting too little sleep and experiencing too much stress. While we don’t know exactly why there are more deadly heart attacks during this time, it’s important to be aware that these factors can snowball, increasing the risk for a deadly cardiac event.”
Being aware of this annual phenomenon and taking a few important, heart-healthy steps can help save lives. Consider these tips from Dr. Elkind and the experts at the American Heart Association.
- Know symptoms and take action. Heart attack signs vary in men and women, but it’s important to recognize them early and call 9-1-1 for help. The sooner medical treatment begins, the better chances of survival and preventing heart damage.
- Celebrate in moderation. Eating healthfully during the holidays doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself. There are ways to eat smart, such as by limiting sodium intake and looking for small, healthy swaps so you continue to feel your best while eating and drinking in moderation.
- Practice goodwill toward yourself. Make time to take care of yourself during this busy season. Reading a favorite book, meditating or even playing with pets are productive ways to reduce stress from the family interactions, strained finances, hectic schedules, traveling and other stressors that can be brought on by the holidays.
- Keep moving. The hustle and bustle of holiday preparation often pushes exercise to the side, but it’s important to stay active as much as possible. Get creative to keep moving by going for a family walk or playing physically active games with loved ones.
- Stick to your medications. Busy schedules can cause some people to skip medications, sometimes even forgetting them at home or not getting refills in a timely manner. Try using a medication chart as a reminder, and be sure to keep tabs on your blood pressure numbers.
Discover more ways to live heart-healthy during the holidays and throughout the year at heart.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
American Heart Association
Navigating the vast world of mental health apps
(BPT) – This article is sponsored by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.
Mental illness is a growing crisis in America that has been compounded by the pandemic1,2. In fact, more than 52 million adult Americans reported experiencing a mental illness in 2020 alone, according to the National Institute of Mental Health3. The silver lining is people are talking about their mental health and there are more options for getting help than ever before4.
“As conversations around mental health are normalized around the world, many people are exploring new and different management tools and resources to combat their condition,” said Dr. Stephen Schueller, associate professor of Psychological Science and Informatics at the University of California. Schueller continues, “In fact, one of the more common tools people are turning to are mental health apps.”
It’s estimated that more than 10,000 mental health apps are currently available in major apps stores5. With so many apps to choose from, it can be overwhelming to navigate through the options, prompting questions such as “what’s the difference between these apps?” or “which app is best for me?”
Understanding the Differences Between Apps
So, what are the differences between mental health apps and what features should potential users consider? As this is a relatively new and fast-growing area of healthcare, it’s important to understand that there are different categories of mental health apps designed to address specific objectives.
These include overall wellness apps and digital therapeutics:
- Wellness Apps
Wellness apps are software intended to promote healthy behaviors and wellness through things like teaching meditation skills, helping users stick to healthy habits, and providing general information and tips. They are not treatments for mental health conditions. These apps are generally not supported by evidence-based research and are not regulated6,7,8.
“There are a wide range of wellness apps available to patients as well as clinicians, but these apps have little to no oversight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and many of them have not been reviewed or studied in a clinical trial to support claims of efficacy or safety,” according to Schueller.
- Digital Therapeutics
Unlike wellness apps, digital therapeutics are defined as high-quality software applications that help prevent, manage or treat a medical condition. These are often recommended and used under the care of a physician9.
Digital therapeutics help empower patients and clinicians with intelligent and accessible tools for addressing a wide range of conditions through high-quality, safe and effective data-driven interventions9. According to Schueller, these apps must meet certain core principles regarding user privacy, security and clinical evidence9.
- Prescription Digital Therapeutics
Within digital therapeutics, there are prescription digital therapeutics, or PDTs9. “PDTs require more rigorous and additional testing in clinical studies and ultimately must gain clearance from the FDA, demonstrating they can treat a condition safely and effectively,” said Schueller. “Importantly, PDTs can only be prescribed by a clinician.”
Having a foundational understanding of available apps and the difference between app categories is the first step, but there are also a few key questions to ask while navigating the vast world of mental health apps, including:
- Are there data or studies showing this app is effective at what it claims to do?
- Who is the app developer and what experience do they have in mental health?
- How will personal data be protected? Will data be shared with third parties?
- What do trusted sources (like clinicians, regulators or independent rating groups) say about this product?
“Taking the time to do the research and ask the critical questions is an important step before using any health app,” said Dr. Schueller, adding, “However, if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness, don’t try to rely on an app alone, talk to a doctor about a treatment plan that is right for you.”
For more information on navigating the vast world of mental health apps click here.
- Kearney, A., Hamel, L., & Brodie, M. (2021, April 14). Mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: An update. KFF. https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/poll-finding/mental-health-impact-of-the-covid-19-pandemic/
- Mental health – A Workforce Crisis. American Heart Association CEO Roundtable. (2019, March 5). https://ceoroundtable.heart.org/mental-health-a-workforce-crisis-report/
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Mental illness. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness
- Naslund, J. A., & Aschbrenner, K. A. (2021, September 12). Technology use and interest in digital apps for Mental Health Promotion and lifestyle intervention among young adults with serious mental illness. Journal of Affective Disorders Reports. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadr.2021.100227
- Clay, R. A. (2021, January 1). Mental health apps are gaining traction. Monitor on Psychology. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2021/01/trends-mental-health-apps
- Stoyanov, S. R., et al. (2015, November 3). Mobile app rating scale: A new tool for assessing the quality of Health Mobile Apps. JMIR mHealth and uHealth. https://mhealth.jmir.org/2015/1/e27/
- Bakker, D., Kazantzis, N., Rickwood, D., & Rickard, N. (2016). Mental Health Smartphone Apps: Review and Evidence-Based Recommendations for Future Developments. JMIR mental health, 3(1), e7. https://doi.org/10.2196/mental.4984
- Torous, J., Luo, J., & Chan, S. R. (2018, March). Mental health apps: What to tell patients. Current Psychiatry. https://www.mdedge.com/psychiatry/article/159127/depression/mental-health-apps-what-tell-patients
- Digital Therapeutics Alliance. Digital Therapeutics: Combining Technology and Evidence-based Medicine to Transform Personalized Patient Care. (2018, October). https://www.dtxalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/DTA-Report_DTx-IndustryFoundations.pdf
Support brain health: Simple ways to add to your wellness routine
(Family Features) When most people think of wellness, diet and exercise are the first things that come to mind. Brain health is another essential element of your overall wellness because it affects your quality of life in many ways.
Brain health is the foundation of your ability to live a productive and successful life by communicating and solving problems. It’s the driving force behind your daily function.
Give your brain extra support with these tips:
Stimulate Your Mind
Like any muscle, your brain needs exercise. Your workout equipment for your brain can include activities like puzzles, reading, learning an instrument, taking up a new hobby or learning a new language.
Focus on Brain-Supporting Foods
What you eat doesn’t just affect your physical health; it affects your brain health, too. One example is the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) diet, which is the result of more than 20 years of data collected by researchers at Rush University Medical Center and Harvard School of Public Health.
It follows the Mediterranean style of eating whole foods with minimal processing and includes an emphasis on plant-based foods, including leafy greens, whole grains and heart-healthy legumes along with some fish and smaller amounts of poultry. The MIND diet aims to build on these principles and emphasizes antioxidant-rich berries, dark leafy greens and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring or sardines.
A dish like Kale and Quinoa Bowl with Salmon reflects the MIND diet guidelines and is a delicious and smart way to support your brain with good nutrition.
“Fueling your brain starts with your plate,” said Melissa Halas, MA, RDN. “This tasty kale, quinoa and salmon recipe by Alton Brown has smart ingredients that match the MIND diet. Plus, the results are delicious. It’s so important to support your brain with the right nutrients.”
While you catch up on your rest, your body is hard at work rejuvenating all your systems, and your brain is no exception. Getting plenty of sleep each night gives your brain time to repair itself so you wake feeling sharp and focused.
Add a Supplement to Your Daily Routine
Most people fall short of reaching recommended nutrient levels with their diets alone. Supplements can help fill the gap. An option like Neuriva Plus can help support the key indicators of brain health: reasoning (think and understand things in a logical way), focus (zoom in and filter out distractions), accuracy (react with greater speed and precision), memory (record and recall stored information), learning (retain new information) and concentration (concentrating on tasks for longer periods).*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Available in capsules and gummies, the Neuriva brain health supplements include naturally sourced ingredients like Neurofactor™ (coffee cherry extract) and plant-sourced phosphatidylserine (PS), as well as B vitamins to support brain health.
“I recently turned 60 and over the past couple of decades, I’ve been very focused on taking care of my health from the inside out – first with my food, and now taking action to support my brain health,” said Alton Brown, award-winning chef and food geek. “Neuriva fits perfectly into my holistic regimen, which for me, is just simple life practices, like exercising, eating a balanced diet and getting a good night’s sleep.”
Keeping your stress in check is good for your mental well-being, but it also affects your physical and cognitive health. Practicing yoga, meditation or listening to music are some ways to reduce stress while improving your cognitive function and performance.
Connect with Others
Personal interaction also sharpens your brain, as it encourages you to practice communication and other cognitive skills. You can protect and improve your brain health by creating and nurturing connections with friends and family.
Your brain needs plenty of oxygen for good function. Physical activity burns calories and builds muscle while increasing oxygen flow and stimulating nerve cell growth.
For more ideas to support brain health and wellness, visit Neuriva.com and download the Neuriva Brain Gym app.
Kale and Quinoa Bowl with Salmon
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown on behalf of Neuriva
Kale and Quinoa Bowl:
- 1 bunch lacinato or “dinosaur” kale, stems removed and cut into ribbons (about 4 ounces, stemmed)
- 1 bunch (1 1/2 ounces) flat leaf parsley, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 lemon, zest and juice only
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
- 4 ounces firm feta cheese, divided
- 1cup (3 1/2 ounces) walnuts, toasted and lightly crushed, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups cooked white quinoa
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 skin-on salmon fillets (around 1-inch thick and 5 ounces each)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- To make kale and quinoa bowls: In large bowl, toss kale, parsley and shallots with 2 tablespoons olive oil; set aside 10 minutes.
- In bowl of food processor, puree remaining olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, yogurt, 2 ounces feta, 1/3 of the walnuts and salt.
- Pour dressing over greens then fold in quinoa, remaining walnuts, cherries and remaining feta.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving with several grinds of black pepper.
- To make salmon: Wrap fillets in paper towels then heat large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes.
- When skillet is hot, season fillets with salt. Add oil to skillet and carefully tilt to evenly cover bottom. When oil shimmers, slide fillets in, skin-side down, pressing each fillet firmly down with spatula.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 3 minutes then cover and cook 2 minutes.
- Carefully flip fillets, cover and cook 1 minute, or until fillets reach desired doneness or internal temperature of at least 130 F** on thermometer inserted into centers.
**The United States Department of Agriculture recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
- To serve, separate kale and quinoa mixture into four bowls. Slice each fillet in half and place on top of kale and quinoa.
Content courtesy of Neuriva
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (woman eating at laptop)
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (woman doing a puzzle)
Photo courtesy of Lynne Calamia (Kale and Quinoa Bowl with Salmon)
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