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Living healthy

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In 2009 Recorder readers were well informed about health issues that continue to affect the African-American community at disproportionate rates.

In addition, readers had access to information that promoted healthy lifestyles as well as learned about less-known health conditions. Here are some 2009 health news highlights:


Midnight tossing or back pain could be due to a bad mattress. Donna Arand, clinical director of the Kettering Hospital of Sleep Disorder Center states what constitutes as a good night’s rest is an uninterrupted seven to eight hours of sleep. “Having a mattress that supports the body and doesn’t create undue pressure points that cause you to move around or wake up a lot is beneficial to getting rest.” There isn’t a perfect mattress, but side and back sleepers should look to firm memory foam or pillow top mattresses.

Americans began to hear about President Barack Obama’s health care plan and wondered how much the plan would cost overall, co-pay costs, if the plan would eliminate health care inequalities, would the plan help Black small businesses and possible changes to Medicaid and Medicare among others.

Readers were reminded the importance of dental health with tips on brushing, flossing, proper diet and finding a dentist while also being urged to detect cancer early with life saving screenings.


A study suggested that teens who watched TV more than five hours a day are prone to become fast-food junkies as adults. The connection? Too much time spent watching ads for fast food restaurants, snacks or other unhealthy food choices. Parents were asked to adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that children watch less than two hours of quality television per day.

While kid food choices were in question, adults were asked to think about their digestive health beginning with the colon. As the last five feet of your digestive tract, the colon is composed of several parts and it’s purpose is to absorb water, salts and minerals from digestion residue. Consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains and drinking plenty of water benefits the colon.

Keeping with a food trend, the American Heart Association warned readers of coronary heart disease deaths outranking breast cancer. The signs of a heart attack differ for women. They include chest discomfort or discomfort in other areas of the body such as the back, neck or stomach; shortness of breath; breaking out in cold sweats, nausea or light headedness. Several risk factors contribute to heart attacks and strokes. To curb these diseases people should stay active, eat a good diet, maintain a healthy weight and get regular screenings. Now smoking also reduces one’s chance of having heart disease.

With an average of 150 to 200 admitted patients a year to Riley Burn Unit, kids were surprisingly admitted for burns and scalds due to lack of supervision. If a child is scalded, remove the source from the skin, do not apply water, wash the area with soap and rinse with lukewarm water. Apply a topical agent if necessary or see a physician.


While readers were given the building blocks for optimal health such as calcium, potassium and vitamin E, they were also given milestone tips on ways to protect their eyes. During your 30s, wear sunglasses. During your 40s, get regular exercise and begin to have regular eye screenings. During your 50s, eat dark leafy greens and keep eyes lubricated, especially menopausal women.

A report noted that older adults get drunk faster than younger drinkers and for the first time in recent history, the health insurance industry offered to curb its controversial practice of charging higher premiums to people with a history of medical problems.


According to the American Cancer society colon and rectal cancer caused nearly 50,000 deaths in 2008. For unknown reasons colon cancer affects African-Americans at considerably higher rates than any another group. Adults should begin colorectal cancer screenings at age 50 unless they have other risk factors. Such screenings include colonoscopies or a virtual colonoscopy.

Bypass surgery was deemed preferable for people with diabetes and older patients. Analysis showed people with diabetes were 30 percent less likely to die if they had bypass surgery rather than a percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI.

Singer Angie Stone visited Indianapolis to inform residents about diabetes affecting the Black community at significant rates.


Recorder readers got the inside scoop on chronic kidney disease (CKD). Studies reported that 26 million Americans suffer from CKD and millions more are at risk. Undiagnosed or untreated, CKD can lead to serious health problems including kidney failure. If caught early it can often be managed and kidney damage can be slowed or stopped.

Health care would be an ongoing topic throughout the year, but many patients began taking matters into their own hands by holding physicians accountable. The debate of doctor rating Web sites argued constructive criticism against invalid information.

There were also studies showing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome doubled for African-American infants.


Warm weather equals more outdoor activity and readers were encouraged to grab their sneakers and begin a walking or running routine.

Although mammograms had proven to be helpful in detecting breast cancer, many women were still afraid to get the necessary tests to help save their lives. The Recorder spoke to breast cancer survivors and told their stories of turning fear into fearlessness.

While Tuberculosis continued to be a major health threat, readers were advised against fad diets.


July brought warm weather and health officials encouraged Indianapolis residents to protect themselves against extreme heat.

In lieu of the Fourth of July, readers were warned of firework injuries. Common bodily injuries involving fireworks include arms, eyes, fingers, the face and legs.

African-Americans suffer from many diseases at disproportionate rates, but Recorder interns gave a breakdown of the top 10 most common diseases and illnesses for Blacks.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans with osteoarthritis undergo hip replacement surgery. The American Arthritis Society compiled useful information such as the definition of a hybrid hip, the risk of HIV from operations and types of post-operative care that should be considered before surgery.

The Recorder is a strong supporter of victims of domestic abuse and readers were inspired to stand up against domestic violence and support victims. The abused were also given advice on how to recognize abuse; they were also provided with resources that would help them after leaving an abuser.


Sarcoidosis is a disease that many people aren’t knowledgeable of. Readers were educated on sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that affects multiple organs in the body, primarily the lungs and lymph glands. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states the cause is unknown and unfortunately many Blacks are unaware of the disease and could be living with it.

Despite countless diseases affecting Blacks, an August report stated Blacks are living longer lives.

All Americans deal with a little condition called acne and surprisingly 90 percent of adolescents, nearly 50 percent of adult women and 25 percent of all adults are affected.

Although tap water is convenient and preserves the environment of excess plastic, contaminants in tap water can be harmful to the body. Bottled water also faced scrutiny. Consumers are to check their water supply or add a filter to their faucet. When buying water, read the labels.


Instances of ovarian cancer are increasing and doctors want women to be educated on the disease. Symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, difficulty eating, feeling full, urinary urgency or unusual fatigue. Women of any age can be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The swine flu or H1N1 gave people a scare worldwide but pharmaceutical companies quickly developed a vaccine that “seemed” safe. Although there was much public concern, target groups such as pregnant women and children were urged to get the vaccine especially before the onset of flu season.

While H1N1 vaccines were being produced, health officials discussed creating a FDA approved HPV vaccine to males. The vaccine Gardasil that is already being administered to prevent cervical cancer in women would be expanded to help prevent genital warts in young males.


As Indianapolis residents gathered in support of “Walk for Lupus Now,” The Sisters Network gave information to Black women on being proactive about breast cancer. Although Black women are diagnosed less frequently than white women, Black women die at greater rates. The Sisters Network is represented in 22 states including Indianapolis.

Despite over 14 years of public education campaigns, only one-third of Americans know how much exercise they ought to get each day, and a recent study found that fewer than half actually meet the goal.

Hoosiers were in the throws of the fall season and due to decreased sunlight, stress and other factors, readers learned how to avoid the wintertime doldrums by modifying outdoor activities, rejuvenating exercise workouts and staying mentally positive.


At the beginning of the month, Clarian Health Partners began offering Medicare Advantage plans to more counties and as prescription prices increased, tips were given to curb costs such as talking to the pharmacist and looking for manufacturer coupons.

Readers were reminded that dental hygiene went beyond brushing. In addition to brushing twice daily with a soft brush, people should floss daily, stop smoking, eat a balanced diet and see a dentist regularly.

Studies show that African-Americans suffer from diabetes at disproportionate rates, however a November study stated higher incidences of diabetes among Blacks when compared to whites may have more to do with living conditions than genetics. The study found when Blacks and whites lived in similar environments and had similar incomes, diabetes rates were similar.


When Americans turn on their TVs they were seeing an increased number of prescription drug advertisements featuring happy people, sunny days, vague descriptions and a quickly mumbled list of side effects. There is concern in the medical community that the drug ads could be damaging to both patients and the health care system.

The Recorder highlighted organ donation – how to donate an organ and the process of receiving an organ in addition to informing readers on alternative ways to care for one’s body.

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