It’s not too late for a flu shot

Although flu season is usually on its way out by spring, it’s peaking late this year. Cases are up nationwide, and right now Kentucky is seeing some of the highest rates of the flu in the nation.

On the bright side, the CDC reports this season’s flu vaccine is very effective against the virus. If you haven’t yet gotten a flu shot this year, it is still worth getting one.

If you are a UK employee, you can still get a flu shot through University Health Service. Call 323-APPT (2778) for an appointment.

If you are not a UK employee, check with your primary care doctor or your preferred pharmacy to see if they still have shots available. If they don’t, you can visit to find out where you can get one.

Getting your flu shot every year is the single most effective step you can take, not just to avoid getting sick yourself, but to help protect those around you, particularly the very young, the very old and anyone who cannot take a flu shot.

To keep the flu and other illnesses from spreading you should also:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 15-20 seconds or using alcohol-based disposable wipes or gel sanitizers.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth as much as possible.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and if you are sick, keep your distance from others.
  • Stay home from work or keep your kids home from school when sick.
  • Remind your children to wash their hands.

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Learn more about the flu, including how the virus is transmitted.

Is it a cold or the flu? While it sometimes seems hard to tell, knowing the difference is the first step to knowing how to feel better.

The Power of Advanced Medicine

Introducing The Power of Advanced Medicine

How powerful is advanced medicine?

At UK HealthCare it is seriously powerful. Life-changing powerful.

Today we are launching a new campaign built around our message of The Power of Advanced Medicine. Showcasing UK HealthCare’s role as Kentucky’s leading academic medical center, the campaign will help you better understand who we are and the groundbreaking work we do.

From treating the most complex medical diagnoses to blazing new trails related to research and innovation, we’ll show you some of the amazing things that happen at UK HealthCare every day.

The campaign kicks off with a 30-second TV commercial featuring several of our programs and initiatives including orthopaedics, cancer and Alzheimer’s research, as well as the new Sports Medicine Research Institute.

We’ll share more great stories as we move forward, but for now you can be among the first to experience The Power of Advanced Medicine by visiting ukhealthcare.com/powerof.

Tune in! Markey Cancer Center experts featured on tonight’s PBS NewsHour

Update, March 28: If you missed Friday’s report on PBS, be sure to check out the video below.

Watch PBS NewsHour tonight at 7 p.m. for a special report on cancer in Kentucky and Appalachia. The story features experts from the UK Markey Cancer Center who work on the front lines of fighting the disease in the poorest parts of the Commonwealth.

Markey’s Dr. Tom Tucker and Dr. Susanne Arnold sat down with NewsHour to discuss the role poverty plays in cancer incidence and how a lack of resources in some parts of Kentucky has contributed to the nation’s highest cancer rates.

Tune in to Kentucky Educational Television tonight at 7 p.m. to learn more about what we’re doing to help Kentuckians live longer, fuller, healthier lives.


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Tips to poison-proof your home

Tips to poison-proof your home

From misplaced medications to household cleaning items, every house has its fair share of potential dangers for children. In fact, nearly 1.2 million cases of accidental poisoning in children ages 5 and younger are reported each year, with 90 percent of those occurring in the home.

This week is National Poison Prevention Week and a great time to review Safe Kids Fayette County’s tips for keeping your house safe for children. Check out our guidelines below and print this post to hang on your fridge or near your phone.

Store potentially poisonous household products and medications out of children’s sight and reach.

  • Read labels to find out what is poisonous. Potential hazards include makeup, medicine, plants, cleaning products, pesticides, art supplies, and beer, wine and liquor.
  • Never leave potentially poisonous household products unattended while in use.
  • Be aware of poisons that may be in your handbag. Store handbags out of the reach of young children.
  • Never mix cleaning products.
  • Buy child-resistant packages when available. Keep products in their original packages to avoid confusion.

Be safe when taking or administering medication.

  • Always read labels, follow directions and give medicines to children based on their weights and ages. Only use the dispensers packaged with children’s medicines.
  • Do not refer to your medication as candy. Children should not think of prescription or over the counter (OTC) medication as treats.
  • Many parents keep their medications on the kitchen counter, on the nightstand, on the dinner table or in personal bags, such as purses, as a personal reminder to take our pills, but these are all easily accessible areas for children. Instead, write a note to remind yourself so you can keep all medication in a cabinet or area that is up and away from your children’s view and grasp.

Keep the toll-free nationwide poison control center number, 800-222-1222, and local emergency numbers near or programmed into every phone in your house.

  • If you suspect poisoning and a child is choking, collapses, can’t breathe or is having a seizure, call 911. Otherwise, call the poison control hotline and have the ingested product on hand to discuss with the operator.
  • Follow the operator’s instructions.
  • Don’t make the child vomit or give him or her anything unless directed.

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Drinking tonight? Keep it safe.

Did you know St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest days of the year for alcohol consumption?

Drinking to excess is not only not good for your body, it tends to lead to bad decision-making, which can put you or those around you in danger.

Here are some tips to keep things safe and fun:

Know your limits

Drinking in moderation and knowing when you’ve had too much is key. If you are slurring your words or experiencing dizziness, it’s time to lay off the alcohol. Instead of guzzling your drink, sip it. One good rule of thumb is to have no more than one alcoholic drink per hour.

Don’t drink and drive

If you’re leaving home to drink, it’s essential to designate a driver or plan another way to get home. The designated driver does not drink AT ALL – you might take turns with your friends being the DD, and chip in to make sure the DD gets free snacks, etc.

Don’t want anyone in your group to have to abstain? Save a local taxi company’s number or download an app such as Uber. If worse comes to worse, stay where you are rather than risk being on the roads. Remember, even buzzed driving is drunken driving. If you feel buzzy, your reflexes are already impaired and you are not fit to drive.

Here are some other tips worth following:

  • Have a substantial meal before you start drinking, and snack through the evening. Food in your belly will help absorb alcohol and keep it from hitting your bloodstream all at once.
  • Beware of unfamiliar drinks that may contain more alcohol than you realize.
  • Stay with your friends. If you’re not thinking clearly, you don’t want to be on your own.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Go Big Blue!


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Tools and resources to help you stop smoking.

Take action to stop smoking

If you’re a smoker, you probably already know it’s not a healthy habit. The benefits of not smoking are vast, but the bottom line is this: if you stop smoking now, you’ll have a better quality of life and more years to live it.

Today is Kick Butts Day, an initiative all about supporting people in their efforts to quit smoking and encouraging others on their path to a tobacco-free lifestyle.

We know that quitting smoking isn’t easy, but we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of tips and resources that can help you or someone you know start on the path toward success. Check them out and pass them along to family and friends.

    • Learn about smoking-cessation aids. Quitting cold turkey isn’t the best option for everyone, and aids like nicotine patches, nicotine gum and medicines for withdrawal symptoms can help make quitting easier. Find about more about tools for helping you kick your habit.
    • Make it through the hardest part. It’s often said that if you can make it through your first week of not smoking, when withdrawal symptoms are at their worst, you’ll be on your way to success. From establishing new morning routines and daily habits to exercising more, little lifestyle changes can help you get through the toughest part of your journey. Here are a few other tips to making it through your first days and weeks as a nonsmoker.
    • Think about your weight. It’s not uncommon to experience weight gain after you stop smoking. Exercising regularly, eating fewer fatty foods and drinking plenty of water can help you maintain a healthy weight moving forward. Check out more suggestions for staying healthy after you quit smoking.
    • A relapse isn’t the end of the world. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a cigarette after quitting. Relapse is a common occurrence and nothing to be ashamed of. Understanding why you chose to smoke is often the key to preventing it from happening again. Here are some additional tips for how to quit smoking after a relapse.
    • You’ll feel better if you quit. From a healthier heart and lungs to whiter teeth and fewer wrinkles, you’ll reap major health benefits when you stop smoking. Check out our infographic for more reasons why kicking your habit is the way to go.


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The UK Transplant Center is moving on March 14.

The UK Transplant Center is moving!

Starting today, the UK Transplant Center is moving from its current location on the fourth floor of UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital to:

Kentucky Clinic
Wing D, Third Floor, Suite J301
740. S. Limestone
Lexington

View and print directions and a map of the new location here.

Patients who are seen at the Transplant and Specialty Clinic at Norton Audubon Hospital in Louisville will continue receiving care at that facility. If you have any questions, please contact us at 866-285-4337.

Transplant Games flag stopping at UK HealthCare

The Transplant Games of America’s National Flag Tour will stop at UK HealthCare on Thursday to celebrate organ donors and recipients on its way to the 2016 Games in June.

Prior to the games, the official flags of the event travel across the country to help raise awareness of organ donation. The flags are also signed by the members of each state’s team. Members of Team Kentucky will be present to sign the flag this Thursday.

Karen Michul, a UK HealthCare employee and living kidney donor, will be participating in the Games for the second time this year, competing in several bowling events.

“Seeing the camaraderie of the donor families and recipients at the Games is amazing,” Michul said. “And some of these people are meeting for the first time! It’s an emotional ride.”

The flag will be on display and available for Team Kentucky to sign this Thursday at 10 a.m. inside the atrium of UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital Pavilion A. If you’re planning to attend, we encourage you to wear blue and green, the colors of Donate Life. Following the flag-signing and a few short remarks, you’re also welcome to stay a short photo session to celebrate the gift of life.

About the UK Transplant Center

For more than 50 years, people have turned to the UK Transplant Center to find answers to difficult problems and guidance in the face of uncertainty.

If you have organ disease or failure, we’re here to help. We specialize in the care of patients with advanced, end-stage organ disease, performing more than 170 transplant procedures every year. UK Transplant Center has clinic locations in Lexington, Louisville and Northern Kentucky, providing care for our transplant patients near the communities where they live and work.


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Better rest may be the key to better health

Getting enough sleep may seem impossible with so few hours in a day, but it is more under your control than you might think. There are plenty of practices and habits that make for good sleep hygiene and will maximize the time you spend asleep.

danov-zoran

Dr. Zoran Danov

Most adults should be getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and when they don’t, it can lead to health problems like forgetfulness, difficulty fighting infections, mood swings and depression. Since sleep deprivation is becoming more common, it’s important to know how you can turn your bad sleep habits around and get good rest.

To celebrate National Sleep Awareness Week, we spoke with Dr. Zoran Danov, medical director of the Pediatric Sleep Program at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, to find out more about the positive effects that good sleep hygiene can have on day-to-day activities and improving overall health and happiness.

Does it help to fall asleep and wake up on a regular schedule?

Danov: Having a regular sleep schedule is very important for maintaining a sleep cycle and getting enough uninterrupted sleep. We should try whenever we can to wake up at the same time consistently regardless of whether it’s a weekend or a work/school day.

Why is it so important to get good sleep?

Danov: Sleep really is a necessary and important part of our daily lives. If you don’t get enough, it’s been shown to lead to changes in a person’s mood causing irritability, lack of motivation, anxiety and depression. Insufficient sleep can also directly influence your actions. For example, waking up without the right rest can be seriously dangerous. Drowsy driving can lead to an injury and possibly even death.

All the shortcomings of a lack of sleep are serious and can be improved only by regular and adequate sleep both in duration and quality.

What tips do you recommend for getting better sleep?

Danov: You’re going to want to have a regular schedule for bedtime, wake time and the meals throughout your days. Staying physically active is also important, but you won’t want to do any strenuous activity right before your desired bedtime. As for those habits right before bedtime, you should cut out the electronics an hour before trying to fall asleep, and caffeinated drinks five to six hours before. The bedroom should be kept dark and quiet, at a comfortable temperature.

How does napping factor into a good sleep routine?

Danov: Napping is a normal human behavior. Naps temporarily improve alertness and they can take the edge off sleepiness, but they do not replace sleep. It’s natural to want to nap usually between 2 and 5 p.m., when we often feel the sleepiest during the day. However, napping too long or too close to your desired sleep time may hurt the night’s sleep. You may not be getting enough sleep during the night if you need to take more than two naps per week.

How do eating habits affect sleep?

Danov: Regular and scheduled meals contribute to regular and quality sleep. Your sleep and diet are interconnected. Insufficient sleep has been associated with obesity and craving comfort foods. We should avoid going to bed hungry, but I wouldn’t recommend any heavy meals within three hours of going to sleep.

What habits may be contributing to poor-quality sleep?

Danov: Using electronics before going to bed and during the night is by far the most common habit that interferes with sleep. People feel the need to stay connected to the outside world and their friends even during sleep. Electronics break up our sleep by emitting light that disrupts our circadian rhythm directly, which is only going to keep you up longer. Interruptions like text messages and phone calls only contribute to sleep fragmentation and not getting quality sleep. Other bad sleep habits that are common are consuming caffeinated drinks close to bedtime and over-scheduling.


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Celebrate International Women's Day with UK HealthCare's health tips.

Women, take charge of your health

In our society, women often care for everyone else – parents, spouses, children – first and neglect themselves. Looking after yourself isn’t selfish – it’s the best way to keep on doing what you do for those around you.

In honor of International Women’s Day today, check out our list of tips that will help you be your healthiest:

  • Understand recommended cancer screenings for your age. Breast, skin, lung and gynecologic cancers are some of most common types affecting women, and regular screening can help catch the disease when it’s most treatable. Check out the American Cancer Society’s guidelines for early cancer screening.
  • Get the HPV vaccine. If you’re 26 or younger, ask your doctor about getting an HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of human papilloma virus that most typically cause cervical cancer.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for cancer and heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women in America.
  • Listen to your heart. Women’s hearts are different from men’s in certain ways, which can affect the way women develop heart disease and experience heart attacks. Check out the top 10 things to know about women’s heart health from Dr. Gretchen Wells, director of the UK Gill Heart Institute Women’s Heart Health Program.
  • Protect your skin by using sunscreen and avoiding indoor tanning. Exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and tanning beds can cause melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.
  • Stay active. Regular exercise, along with a healthy diet, can lower your risk for several types of cancer and reduce your risk for heart disease. Being overweight can increase your risk of a heart attack and other heart complications.
  • Think about your mental health, too. Some mental illnesses are more common in women or affect women in different ways than men. Conditions such as anxiety, eating disorders and postpartum depression can significantly impact your life. The National Institute of Mental Health has more information specifically for women, but simple things like staying in touch with family and friends, exercising, and getting good sleep can boost your mental health. If you’re unable to shake your symptoms or they keep coming back, talk with your doctor.
  • Be a role model for health. Make sure you’re setting good examples for the girls and young women in your life. Practice healthy eating habits at home and encourage exercise. Encourage the teenage girls in your life to get the HPV vaccination. And for teenage girls especially, emotional support is important. Be available to talk with young women in your life who may be experiencing increased anxiety or depression as they undergo a time of physical and personal growth.

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Challenge accepted: Markey strives to improve access to colorectal cancer screening across Kentucky

“Challenge accepted” is a series highlighting the work the Markey Cancer Center is doing to fight cancer in Kentucky and Appalachia. To learn more about how we’re helping Kentuckians live longer, fuller and healthier lives, read the latest Markey Cancer Center Annual Report. In this entry, we celebrate Colon Cancer Awareness Month by looking at Markey’s outreach efforts to combat this disease.

Thanks to screening tests like colonoscopies, colorectal cancer can be identified at its earliest stages when it’s most treatable. Unfortunately, many Kentuckians don’t take advantage of this opportunity.

In fact, in 2001, Kentucky had the highest rate of colorectal cancer in the United States, and was ranked 49 of the 50 states for colorectal cancer screening, said Tom Tucker, PhD, MPH, associate director for cancer prevention and control at the UK Markey Cancer Center.

This startling statistic spurred several major cancer groups in Kentucky into action, leading to the launch of a program encouraging primary care physicians to recommend and schedule colorectal screening. In rural areas of the state where primary care physician care is less common, individuals from the community were recruited for screening and asked to encourage their age-eligible friends to also be screened.

By 2008, the results of these efforts were clear.

“In seven years, we went from just over one-third of the population age 50 and older ever having had a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to nearly two-thirds,” Tucker said, noting that the state also went from No. 49 in colorectal screening to No. 25, while colorectal cancer incidence rates dropped by 25 percent and mortality rates dropped by 30 percent.

But in spite of the progress, there is still much to do: A third of age-eligible Kentuckians are still not screened for colorectal cancer.

This year, Melissa Hounshell, the community outreach director for Markey, will focus her efforts on distributing FIT kits in the population centers where individuals are least likely to pursue screening. FIT kits are at-home tests that are then mailed to a lab, that screen for blood in the stool, a potential marker of colorectal cancer.

“Markey is committed more than ever to leading a comprehensive cancer screening education and prevention program,” Hounshell said. “It’s about reaching some of those people who have been unreachable and really embedding ourselves in the community.”


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