(Family Features) While people may think about heart disease and kidney disease as two different health problems, there are many links between them.
Kidney disease affects roughly 1 in 7 (15%) American adults, according to the American Kidney Fund.
Having chronic kidney disease (CKD) means that you’re more likely to get heart disease. The reverse is also true: Heart disease can cause CKD. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death among people on dialysis, which is a life-saving treatment for people in kidney failure.
To learn more about the link between kidney disease and your heart, consider these facts from the American Kidney Fund:
Your heart and kidneys rely on each other to function well. When you have kidney disease, your heart must pump harder to get blood to your kidneys, which can cause stress on your heart. This extra stress can eventually lead to heart disease. Additionally, if your kidneys are damaged, they can’t filter blood as well as they should, leaving extra fluid and waste in your blood, which can damage other organs – including your heart.
When you have heart disease, your heart cannot pump blood through your body as well as it should. Heart disease includes heart or blood vessel problems such as coronary artery disease, blood clots, heart attacks or problems with your heart’s muscles, valves or heartbeat. Your heart makes up for this by holding onto more salt and water, putting pressure on your veins. This extra pressure on your veins can ultimately damage your kidneys, leading to kidney disease.
Kidneys help regulate blood pressure and create red blood cells. In addition to filtering blood, healthy kidneys also produce a hormone that helps regulate your blood pressure. The kidneys also produce erythropoietin, which signals the body to make more red blood cells to carry oxygen through your body. When the kidneys can’t make erythropoietin, it can lead to anemia and heart problems.
Potassium plays a major role in kidney and heart health. Potassium controls muscle contractions, including those in the heart. Unbalanced potassium levels can lead to risk of heart disease or heart failure – the most fatal heart issues associated with kidney disease.
Patients with kidney disease, including those not yet on dialysis, can have issues with potassium. The loss of kidney function can result in the inability to filter potassium. When this happens, it causes extra potassium in the body, a condition known as hyperkalemia, or high potassium. Hyperkalemia often does not cause symptoms until heart health has already worsened and can lead to a heart attack if not diagnosed and treated.
Many patients discover they have high potassium due to a minor heart issue, but the chronic condition must be treated continuously through medicines called potassium binders. The medicine works by sticking to the potassium in your body, which is then removed through feces. This prevents some of it from being taken into your blood and building up.
Prevention of both heart and kidney disease starts with preventing and managing the conditions that cause them. Keeping diabetes, high blood pressure and anemia under control can help prevent them from getting to the point of causing kidney or heart disease. When found early, you can manage the conditions through lifestyle changes, such as:
- Following a kidney-friendly and heart-healthy eating plan
- Being active daily
- Avoiding use of tobacco products
- Lowering stress levels
For more information on the kidney-heart connection, especially potassium in the body, talk to your doctor and visit KidneyFund.org/BeyondBananas, an education campaign from the American Kidney Fund and AstraZeneca.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
American Kidney Fund
Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Taking Action
Make a difference during Breast Cancer Awareness Month by taking action, supporting early detection, and accessing resources.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) is a significant time when pink ribbons symbolize the fight against breast cancer. However, it’s crucial to understand that awareness alone is not enough. This October, let’s go beyond awareness and take action.
A breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, which is why initiatives like the NBCF Patient Navigation Program exist—to ensure that no one battles breast cancer alone. Early detection is key to successful outcomes, but many people may not know what signs and symptoms to look for. Thankfully, resources like NBCF’s “Most Asked Questions: Breast Cancer Signs & Symptoms” provide answers and guidance.
We can all make a difference during BCAM. Use your voice, passion, and financial support to ensure that every woman has access to critical screening, support, and care. By getting involved, getting screened, making a donation, or taking action, you can directly impact the lives of those affected by breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month extends beyond awareness campaigns. In the United States, organizations like the National Football League incorporate pink into their activities, and even comic strip artists dedicate a day in October to raise awareness. Additionally, various walks and events raise funds for breast cancer programs, such as the iconic Race for the Cure, which began in October 1983.
Let’s make Breast Cancer Awareness Month a time of action, support, and empowerment. Together, we can make a difference and ensure that everyone facing breast cancer receives the care and resources they deserve.
If you would like to donate to BCAM or get more information, please follow this link:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breast_Cancer_Awareness_Month
6 Tips to Prepare for a Cold, Stormy Winter
(Family Features) Weather fluctuations are the norm these days, and cold winter weather is on the horizon.
This winter, don’t get caught out in the cold when it comes to heating costs. There are things you can do now to help save money by reducing your energy consumption. Consider these tips from the experts at Carrier to help you reduce usage and home heating costs this season.
1. One of the easiest ways to save on your heating bill is turning the heat down to the lowest setting you are comfortable with. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning the temperature down an additional 10-15 F while you are sleeping or away can help save about 10% a year on energy costs.
2. Installing a programmable thermostat can make turning down the heat automatic. Depending on the model, you can set different temperatures for when you are home, away or asleep. Better yet, a WiFi-connected smart thermostat can make automatic adjustments and is controllable remotely using a smartphone.
3. Keep up with regular maintenance of your home heating system so it runs efficiently. Change your filter as recommended by the manufacturer and have a professional conduct an inspection and tune-up before the weather gets cold and appointments become harder to get. A dirty or clogged furnace filter can cause your furnace to work harder than needed and waste energy in the process. According to the experts at Carrier, regular, routine maintenance and cleaning can help your furnace run more efficiently and potentially extend its life.
4. The average life of a furnace is 15-20 years, so be prepared when it comes time to replace. Oftentimes, people wait to buy a new furnace until their current system breaks down and have to resort to buying what’s in stock. Planning ahead lets you shop for a system that’s right for your home and preferences. Right now may be a good time to consider replacing your aging furnace with available manufacturer promotions, energy company incentives and tax credits associated with the Inflation Reduction Act.
5. If you replace your furnace, consider switching to a high efficiency model. They offer a higher level of comfort and energy cost savings. Many homeowners are opting for higher efficiency heat pumps, units that handle both heating and cooling. They are powered by electricity and a growing choice for consumers who want to use less fossil fuels. For example, Carrier’s award-winning Infinity line is among the most energy efficient on the market and operates down to -15 F.
6. Check for drafts around doors, windows and other openings. Seal with caulk or weatherstripping. Also ensure your home is insulated properly. Some utility companies offer to check your home’s insulation for free. Having less cold air to heat can yield considerable cost savings.
Being prepared for cold weather can help save money in the long run. Find more tips at Carrier.com/Residential.
CVS Health study shows continuing suicide crisis in the U.S.
Awareness of the crisis is widespread, but most Americans lack strong knowledge of the warning signs
Despite national trends, Aetna, a CVS Health company, members have seen reductions in suicide-related events over the past year, compared to 2019 baselines
WOONSOCKET, R.I. /PRNewswire/ — A recent CVS Health® (NYSE: CVS)/Harris Poll survey of Americans 18 years and older found that nearly one in five (18%) U.S. adults say they were plagued with suicidal thoughts in the past year.
Other key findings from the survey include:
- More than a third of younger adults aged 18-34 (36%) say they had moments in the past year where they contemplated suicide.
- An overwhelming nine in ten (89%) U.S. adults deem suicide prevention efforts a major priority in our society.
- However, less than a third (32%) strongly agree they can recognize the warning signs of someone potentially at risk, and only four in ten (43%) are strongly aware of resources that offer support and information on suicide prevention.
- Nearly eight in ten (77%) U.S. adults believe health care providers have a crucial role in suicide prevention, and there is an opportunity for providers to have more discussions about suicide with patients.
“Our nation continues to face a mental health and suicide crisis, especially among youth and older adults,” said Cara McNulty, President of Behavioral Health and Mental Well-being at CVS Health. “However, with timely, evidence-based interventions, and public awareness efforts, we know suicide is preventable. We’ve developed an approach based on early detection, data-backed support methods, programs for those that have lost someone to suicide and community education to help those in need and empower their support systems. Every life saved is worth the effort.”
Growing reduction in Aetna members’ suicide attempts
As part of its ongoing commitment to mental health and well-being, CVS Health continues to focus on reducing suicide attempts among Aetna members.
- Despite the increasing national trends, Aetna has seen a 16% reduction in suicide attempts among Aetna adult Commercial members when compared with a 2019 baseline.
- Aetna member youth (13–17-year-olds) attempts remain above the 2019 baseline. However, since Aetna launched dedicated youth programming in 2021, attempts are trending downward with a 13% reduction when comparing 2022 with 2021.
- Aetna has seen a 13.7% reduction in suicide attempts among its Medicare Advantage members compared to 2019.
“Every suicide that is prevented is a life that is saved,” said Taft Parsons III, M.D., Vice President and Chief Psychiatric Officer at CVS Health. “We are working closely with our partners to implement targeted interventions for youth and develop similar programming for older adults. Together we can help raise awareness of the ongoing crisis and connect those in need to evidence-based resources that can help saves lives.”
CVS Health resources to prevent suicide
CVS Health has implemented several programs and partnerships to help address the suicide crisis focused on both individuals and health care providers.
Partnerships and programs to support Aetna members in need
- CVS Health launched a proactive outreach program for high-risk youth members. Clinical staff outreach those families to connect them with specialized services and resources.
- Aetna members have access to specialized outpatient programs, such as a suicide prevention program that combines digital solutions with telehealth sessions and specially trained, licensed clinicians.
- Through the Caring Contacts program, at-risk Aetna members receive simple messages of hope after being discharged from an intensive level of care related to suicide. More than 20,000 caring contacts or care bags are delivered annually.
- CVS Health continues to scale universal screenings and safety planning for all Aetna members, whether or not there is a clear suicide risk, in order to better take action if and when needed.
Partnerships and programs to support health care providers
- Aetna launched a free suicide prevention training, support and continuing education qualification program for contracted behavioral health and EAP providers. All therapists who provide counseling and other mental health services in MinuteClinics® in select CVS Pharmacy locations are certified in this program.
- Aetna works with SafeSide, an organization dedicated to mental health education, to train primary care physicians, medical practices and their staff in identification and early intervention for patients at risk of suicide.
- Aetna facilitates a program in which pediatricians are able to participate in the ECHO suicide prevention training opportunity from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics.
CVS Health also offers a number of mental health guides, podcasts and trainings centered around different populations – from the LGBTQ+ community to young adults to parents and caregivers to teachers – and their unique mental health needs.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of CVS Health from August 3-7, 2023, among 2,016 U.S. adults age 18+ who agreed to answer questions about sensitive and personal information related to mental health, including topics surrounding suicide. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within ±2.7 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete research methods, including weighting variables, please contact [Doug Feingold ([email protected])].
About CVS Health
CVS Health® is the leading health solutions company, delivering care like no one else can. We reach more people and improve the health of communities across America through our local presence, digital channels and over 300,000 dedicated colleagues – including more than 40,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and nurse practitioners. Wherever and whenever people need us, we help them with their health – whether that’s managing chronic diseases, staying compliant with their medications or accessing affordable health and wellness services in the most convenient ways. We help people navigate the health care system – and their personal health care – by improving access, lowering costs and being a trusted partner for every meaningful moment of health. And we do it all with heart, each and every day. Follow @CVSHealth on social media.
Aetna, a CVS Health business, serves an estimated 34 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers’ compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna’s customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, visit www.aetna.com and explore how Aetna is helping to build a healthier world.
SOURCE CVS Health
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