HEALTH

Natural Resources Defense Council lists 35 worst cities for allergy sufferers

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON – One-in-three Americans lives in the "sneeziest and wheeziest" cities and regions where they are exposed to both ragweed pollen and ozone smog pollution that can worsen respiratory allergies and asthma, a new Natural Resources Defense Council report released Wednesday found.
 
As a consequence, these 109 million Americans are more likely to suffer itchy eyes, runny noses and sneezing, and may find it hard to breathe. And they become more ill than those exposed to only ragweed or ozone pollution.
 
The report, "Sneezing and Wheezing: How Climate Change Could Increase Ragweed Allergies, Air Pollution and Asthma," is among the first to map the intersection of ragweed prevalence and high ozone smog, which can magnify respiratory allergies and asthma.
 
It carries a dire warning for policymakers and the nation's leaders: As climate change warms our planet, millions more Americans could become ill with potentially severe respiratory allergies and asthma.
 
That underscores the need for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finalize standards to strengthen the health standard for ozone pollution and to slash carbon pollution from the nation's power plants, which helps create ground-level ozone and fuels climate change. The pollutants that form health-harming ozone smog are emitted from the same fossil fuel burning that produces heat-trapping carbon pollution.
 
NRDC's report finds that 35 major cities where people are exposed to both ragweed pollen and ozone smog. The most vulnerable regions are the Los Angeles Basin, the St. Louis area, the Great Lakes Region, the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, the NRDC report found.
 
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Diana Baum says:
May-15-2015 11:31 am

Where is the St. Louis region coming from in the last paragraph? It is not listed in the 35 cities at the beginning of the article??? Was it identified as a top allergy region?

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NACDS highlights role of community pharmacy in statement on chronic care Senate hearing

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. — In lead-up to Thursday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing, “A Pathway to Improving Care for Medicare Patients with Chronic Conditions,” the National Association of Chain Drug Stores submitted comments highlighting pharmacy’s role in helping patients manage their chronic conditions.

In its comments, NACDS emphasized the role of community pharmacies and pharmacists in providing access to prescription medications and OTC products, as well as cost-effective health services such as immunizations and disease screenings.

“Access to these types of services is especially vital for Medicare beneficiaries as nearly two-thirds are suffering from multiple chronic conditions. Through personal interactions with patients, face-to-face consultations, and convenient access to preventive care services, local pharmacists are helping to shape the healthcare delivery system of tomorrow—in partnership with doctors, nurses, and others,” NACDS wrote.

NACDS cited pharmacist-provided medication therapy management in improving medication adherence, which also helps lower overall healthcare costs. In addition, NACDS emphasized the accessibility of retail pharmacies for patients who are medically underserved, including seniors, and may have chronic conditions, urging support for legislation (S. 314 and H.R. 471) that would help ensure access to requisite healthcare services for these vulnerable populations.

“The ‘Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act’ would allow Medicare Part B to utilize pharmacists to their full capability by providing those underserved beneficiaries with services not currently reaching them (subject to state scope of practice laws),” NACDS wrote in its comments.

NACDS further emphasized that this legislation would lead not only to a reduction in overall healthcare costs, but also to increased access to healthcare services and improved healthcare quality for underserved patients, and especially for patients with chronic conditions.   

“We look forward to working with policymakers and stakeholders on looking to find ways to improve care for Medicare patients with chronic conditions,” NACDS said.

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Almost one-third of millennials would forego sleep, survey finds

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Research recently conducted by the Better Sleep Council released Wednesday found that Americans are conflicted about sleep. The survey revealed that a large majority of people understand that sleep is necessary to recharge, restore and refresh. However, when asked about their feelings toward sleep, their answers become more complex and polarized.
 
The survey, administered during April 2015 in support of the BSC's annual "May is Better Sleep Month" campaign, shows that the way sleep is framed influences the way people feel about it. When asked about how important sleep is, only 2% view sleep as a waste of time. But negative feelings become more prominent when people are told how much of their lives are spent asleep. For example, when told they will spend an average of one-third of their lives sleeping, 15% of respondents felt negatively about the amount of time spent "wasted" on sleep – despite the fact that this is the typical biological requirement. And when told that they will have slept for roughly 20 years by the time they reach age 60, a total of 33% of respondents were dismayed that they were "about to waste 20 years" of their life or said they "never want to sleep again."
 
"The research clearly shows that what we understand about sleep versus how we feel about it is polarizing – and that has profound ramifications on how Americans treat the importance of sleep," said Mary Helen Uusimaki, BSC VP marketing and communications. "Spending one-third of your life sleeping is not a negative; it's a biological need. Those that feel time is being wasted on sleep will more likely cheat themselves of the seven to nine hours they need to make their waking hours more healthy, productive and enjoyable."
 
According to the research, millennials are significantly more likely to feel that spending 20 out of 60 years sleeping is a waste of time (30%), compared to generation X (23%) and baby boomer (21%) respondents. That number rises when examining male responses only – 34% of millennial males feel the time is wasted, compared to generation X males (18%) and baby boomer males (20%). 
 
"Negative attitudes about sleep can be linked to what other experts have concluded – that a primary cause of excessive sleepiness among Americans is self-imposed sleep deprivation," said Terry Cralle, certified clinical sleep educator and BSC health and wellness spokesperson. "Health professionals should be concerned that Americans may think of sleep as a waste of time, when in fact, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to serious health issues, including heart disease, obesity, stroke and dementia."
 
There is some hope, however, as 33% of respondents have no concerns about spending one-third of their lives sleeping – the statement evokes positive feelings, and they consider sleep worthy of that much of their time. Another 24% feel it's necessary to recharge. However, half of respondents struggling to fall asleep, unfortunately, turn to the television for help – a method sleep experts discourage. 
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