Re-Imagining the Life Sciences & Research: A New Disruptive Women in Health Care Series

Robin Strongin

When I think of the value of the Precision Medicine Initiative that President Obama announced earlier this year, the money involved isn’t the first thing that comes to mind (although over $200 million in proposed dollars to entities like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute are worth cheering).  Actually, the focus on precision medicine provides a tremendous opportunity to take a step back and consider the future of research, medicine and the life sciences.

That’s exactly what we’re going to be doing over the next several days here in the Disruptive Women in Health Care space.   Experts from a variety of health related sectors and with diverse perspectives are going to be sharing their views on “Re-Imagining the Life Sciences and Research.”  We need discussions like this because, while the potential in this field is truly breathtaking and difficult to fully comprehend, there are critical unanswered questions. (more…)

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Diabetes – Who’s in Control?

Terri Prof Headshot 0412What if you had no control over what you ate, when you ate, how much energy you had, or what you weigh? What if, on top of this, you had to test your blood 6 times a day and give yourself injections, carrying around your supplies constantly so you would be ready no matter what else was going on in your life? Now, throw in that you are 15 and just want to be normal, like everyone else, eating pizza when you feel like it and going wherever you wanted?

Kimberly Young was that teenager. She, likes hundreds of thousands of other American teenagers, has type 1 diabetes. Diagnosed at the age of 4, she was never like other kids. She always felt that her diabetes controlled her life. She didn’t have the carefree lifestyle of a teenager. Kimberly had to grow up more quickly than her friends as the realization that what she ate, how active she was and how closely she monitored her blood glucose had long term impacts on her health. Having too much pizza wasn’t about just gaining the “freshman 10” (or 20!) when she was in college, it was about maintaining her vision and her circulation to prevent serious complications. She learned that, “There is no vacation from diabetes. You live with it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter where you go or what you go.” (more…)

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Mom Has Alzheimer’s: Coping Strategies for Caregivers

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Image via Pixabay

September was World Alzheimer’s Month so it’s a great time for all of us to reflect on the hardships faced by the nearly 5 million Americans diagnosed with this horrible disease, a figure comprised of a startling one in six women versus one in eleven men ages 65 and older.

But it’s also a time for us to honor the daily struggles of the selfless, compassionate individuals who act as their caregivers. It’s an especially difficult endeavor for all of the women who take on the role, as they often juggle this effort with raising a family, running a household, and holding down a full-time 9 to 5 career.

Caregiving is a round-the-clock occupation in which one’s responsibilities continuously change as the illness progresses from its early stages to its debilitating late stages. And while it’s certainly a difficult job, there are actually many ways to make caregiving tasks more manageable. Here are a few ways to smooth the transition to life post-diagnosis. (more…)

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  • August 28th, 2015 A Simple Slice of Bread. Staff of Life for You. Poison for Me.
    By Glenna Crooks
  • Spreading the Word, From One Heart to Another

    swhr_icon-2-solidThe following first ran on HuffPost’s Healthy Living on July 30.

    Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S. and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined, killing approximately one woman every minute [1]. Coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common form of heart disease, is equally alarming, causing one in every seven deaths in the U.S. [2]. CAD is caused by the buildup of fatty deposits in the heart arteries.

    When plaque blocks more than 50 percent of an artery, it is considered obstructive coronary artery disease. Since a woman’s risk of CAD increases with her age, it’s crucial to understand the symptoms — and know that they may differ from symptoms shown in men.

    Women may not experience the typical indicators of CAD that men commonly do, such as chest pain or shortness of breath. Instead, women frequently experience less obvious symptoms that may indicate CAD, but could also stem from other, less serious conditions including heartburn, stress, and anxiety. However, when it comes to the heart, even mild symptoms can be big indicators [3]. (more…)

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    In Alzheimer’s Disease, Caregiving May Be Just As Trying As the Disease Itself

    swhr_icon-2-solidThe post below originally appeared on HuffPost’s Living Healthy blog on July 15.

    When most of us think of Alzheimer’s disease, our first thought isn’t usually of the quiet caregiver alongside the patient, devoting their time to helping someone living with the disease. But caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is often a full-time job, taking its toll on the caregiver.

    According to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, the “typical” family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman who takes care of a relative. Nearly 25 percent of America’s caregivers are millennials (adults aged 18 to 34) and are more likely to be female than male. In fact, 66 percent of all caregivers are women, and female caregivers devote as much as 50 percent more time providing care than their male counterparts. Caregivers older than 75 years tend to be the sole support system for their loved one, providing care without any outside help.

    Nearly half of caregivers who provide 21 or more hours of care each week report high emotional stress, and with an average household income of $45,700, caregivers feel not only emotional strain, but also immense financial strain, as the cost of caregiving is at least $5,000 annually. (more…)

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    Caring for Loved Ones with Alzheimer’s Disease: Families Struggle for Resources to Cope

    candaceCandace Y.A. Montague, a health reporter for Capital Community News authored the article below. It originally ran here.

    It started off with small, inexplicable acts like leaving raw chicken in the microwave or putting bread in the freezer. But Angela Byrd knew that something wasn’t right about her 67-year-old mother Shirley. It escalated to car accidents where Shirley would hit another car and argue that it wasn’t her fault. Then one day Byrd got a call from her grandmother explaining that Shirley was lost in Takoma Park, Northwest. She had no recollection of how she got there. The Byrds live on Alabama Avenue in Southeast.

    “That’s when I took her car keys away,” said Byrd. “I just couldn’t take it anymore.” With the support of her aunt, her grandmother, and her mother’s best friend, Byrd convinced her mother to go to a doctor, who diagnosed her as having the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. “I think my mother already knew this. She just wasn’t telling everybody else about it. She’s a strong woman.” (more…)

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    Institute for Music and Neurologic Function’s 2015 Summer Institute

    Each One Counts Foundation Sponsors Institute for Music and Neurologic Function’s 2015 Summer Institute

    Workshop to Explore Therapeutic Applications of Music in Pediatric Pain Management

    Bronx, New York – The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, a member of CenterLight Health System, will offer a two-day workshop to enhance and increase the therapeutic applications of music in pediatric pain management. Presented July 13 -14, the symposium is made possible by a generous, $10,000 grant by Each One Counts Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing complementary pain management therapies for children.

    “We are grateful to Each One Counts for providing us with the opportunity to share this crucially  important work,” said Dr. Concetta Tomaino, Executive Director of The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. “It’s a privilege to help advance the foundation’s mission of providing care, relief and comfort to children in need.” (more…)

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    Women’s Heart Health: What We Don’t Know

    Phyllis Greenberger

    The post below original ran here on HUFFPOST Healthy Living on June 9.

    Women’s Heart Month has come and gone but heart attacks have not. While it is a positive sign that cardiovascular disease in women is finally being recognized — there are successful campaigns educating women about the prevalence of heart disease and its varying symptoms – fewer than one in five healthcare providers – including cardiologists — recognizes women’s hearts as differing from men’s. Many outstanding questions remain about diagnosing and treating women with heart disease.

    Since 1984, more women than men have died of heart disease each year. While women tend to have heart attacks later in life, there are women who experience them in their twenties and thirties. These women are often healthy, in good physical shape, and have no symptoms. Despite this large number of women affected by cardiovascular disease, women and minorities are underrepresented in cardiovascular clinical trials. Only one-third of cardiovascular clinical trials report sex-specific results, making it ever more difficult for researchers and clinicians to know how a particular drug or device will affect women. [1] (more…)

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    Lyme Disease: The Great Imitator

    Terri Prof Headshot 0412Spring is my favorite season. Warmer weather, budding flowers and lots of greenery in yards, gardens and parks encourages outside activities and fills me with energy. The spring season also brings out lots of crawling and flying critters like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, as well as some of the more unpleasant pests like ticks and mosquitos. If you enjoy spending time outside like I do, hiking, gardening or walking the dog, be aware that ticks and their bites can be not only annoying, but dangerous.

    Jana’s Experience

    Jana Braden found out how dangerous tick bites can be the hard way. She enjoyed the outdoors and never gave much thought to something as minor as ticks. Jana never even realized that she had been bitten by a tick, so when her eyes began to hurt, became red and extremely inflamed her doctor thought that it was conjunctivitis. (more…)

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    Annie Levy’s Latest Project: “Ask Me a Question”


    Annie Levy

    Disruptive Woman Annie Levy has been busy lately serving as Creative Director of the “Ask Me a Question” project. Annie is part of the MADE VISIBLE Foundation team which worked on this project. Through this video project the stories of five different people who were/are patients is told. The videos are designed to be an interactive teaching tool for students and physicians to learn firsthand about the patient experience. The ultimate goal…make patients more visible. What is even more exciting about the project is that two of the individuals interviewed are part of the Disruptive Women network. The first is Amy Berman one of Disruptive Women’s 2015 Women to Watch and the second is a Man of the Month, Matthew Zachary. You can view Amy and Matthew’s videos as well as the other patient’s videos here. This impressive and important project is worth viewing and sharing with colleagues and friends. Way to go Annie!

    To see an interview with Annie done by the Gold Foundation’s blog editor Perry Dinardo about this project click here. Medpage Today also ran an article on this fabulous series which you can read here.

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    Digital health love – older people who use tech like health-tech, too

    Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

    The following post ran on March 4th on Health Populi.

    As people take on self-service across all aspects of daily living, self-care in health is growing beyond the use of vitamins/minerals/supplements, over-the-counter meds, and trying out the blood-pressure cuff in the pharmacy waiting for a prescription to be filled. Today, health consumers the world over have begun to engage in self-care using digital technologies. And this isn’t just a phenomenon among people in the Millennial generationMost seniors who regularly use technology (e.g., using computers and mobile phones) are also active in digitally tracking their weight, for example, learned in a survey by Accenture.Seniors18

    Older people who use technology in daily living (say, for entertainment or financial management) are keen to use tech for health, too. Specifically, illustrated in the infographic, Accenture found that:

    • 2 in 3 older people want to use self-care technology to manage their health
    • 3 in 5 older people are willing to track vital signs like heart rate and blood pressure via a digital device (more…)

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    Heart Disease – It Looks Different From a Woman’s Perspective

    Terri Prof Headshot 0412Lara D. knew that heart disease ran in her family. Her father had his first heart attack at 46.  His second, two years later, took his life when she was in high school. She learned intimately the impact that a heart attack has on a family. She saw her mother struggle to keep her children on track while trying to manage her own feelings of loss. Her college years were spent working full time and going to a community college in the evenings to get her degree and become a CPA. While many women work hard to get a degree, holding full time jobs, raising children and supporting spouses, this wasn’t what her parents had planned for her.

    Now 53, Lara knows that she is at high risk for heart disease and heart attack. She has been on blood pressure and cholesterol medication since her 30s. She works out and tries to eat well, maintaining a healthy weight. Still, she had a nagging feeling that she might be missing something. (more…)

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    A New Resolution: To Create Healing

    Janice Lynch Schuster

    For all my years on the planet, 52, there are still times when experience is no teacher—or when futility seems to be my master. Nowhere is this more true than in my annual list of New Year’s resolutions. (It is a relief to know that I am not alone in this one.) Many of us share the idea that with an annual tick-tock-bank, we can fashion ourselves anew by resolving to achieve certain goals.

    In some ways, my approach to making resolutions echoes the Lenten period of my Catholic girlhood: in those days, I could give up something for 40 days, and in doing so, would become closer to my faith.  Perhaps that early experience is still the force that leads me to making resolutions that are at once modest and narcissistic. My resolutions tend to contain some combination of activities that, if only I could achieve them, would lead to meaningful change. (more…)

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    Struggling with Diabetes? You’re Not Alone

    Terri Prof Headshot 0412If you know someone with diabetes, you know how much disruption, discomfort and inconvenience it can cause: dietary restrictions to control blood sugar, frequent finger pricks to monitor glucose levels, injections to deliver insulin and the constant fear that your levels will spike or plummet. All of this effort is necessary to manage the ubiquitous disease. Not managing it well or ignoring it could cause a seizure, a coma, or some other truly unpleasant side effects of irregular blood sugar levels.

    While the most extreme health issues have been widely known for type 1 diabetes, more Americans are being sucked into sedentary, high caloric, unhealthy lifestyles causing an epidemic of type 2 diabetes. Both can cause stroke, blindness, heart disease, neuropathy (nerve pain), kidney damage and limb amputations and those diagnosed with diabetes have shorter life expectancies.

    Bob K. knows all too well the difficulties of living with diabetes.  Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a young boy, he is now 90 years old and is the longest living diabetic on record. But he will tell you it has not been easy. (more…)

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