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Health Capsules: Feb. 7

Annual Heart Fair promotes cardiovascular health

As a service to the community during American Heart Month in February, BJC Missouri Baptist Medical Center will hold its annual Heart Fair on Saturday, Feb. 24. The free event runs from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the hospital’s campus, located at 3015 N. Ballas Road.

The Heart Fair will include a number of health screenings available at no cost to attendees, including blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose level, BMI and body composition measurement. For those identified through these tests as being at high risk for heart disease, stroke or diabetes, Missouri Baptist will provide follow-up services at several points during the year, focused on assisting those individuals with health management and lifestyle changes as well as connecting them to necessary medical resources to help them lower their risk.

In addition to screenings, the family-friendly event will include live heart-healthy cooking demonstrations and free food samples from Dierbergs; exercise classes including yoga and Tai Chi; health presentations by physicians, and a number of interactive activities for families and kids. A blood donation drive to benefit the American Red Cross also will be held.

Advanced registration for the Heart Fair, as well as for the free health screenings, is recommended by visiting missouribaptist.org/HeartFair.

CDC declares flu epidemic, issues updated treatment guidelines

This year’s nasty flu season recently prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] to declare a nationwide epidemic. Unfortunately, flu statistics show Missouri to be the hardest-hit state in the country, with more than 40,000 cases reported so far. In St. Louis County, the flu definitely has reached widespread levels – for the week ending Jan. 14 alone, 1,074 cases were reported countywide, although that number was down slightly from the 1,282 cases reported during the first week in January.

According to both the CDC and local lab test results, influenza A – more specifically, the A[H3N2] virus – has been the predominant strain circulating this season. In the past, this strain has been associated with more hospitalizations and deaths than other subtypes of the flu, especially in young children and those over age 65. At the same time, vaccine effectiveness against H3N2 has proven to be lower compared to other flu strains.

For those reasons, the CDC stated, the use of antiviral medications for treatment of influenza is extremely important this year. These medications, called neuraminidase inhibitors, include Oseltamivir [Tamiflu], Zanamivir [Relenza], Laninamivir [Inavir] and Peramivir [Rapivab].

They are most effective in treating and reducing serious complications from the flu when started soon after symptoms begin – within 36 to 48 hours, if possible. However, data from previous flu seasons suggests that these medications have not been fully utilized in outpatients and hospitalized patients with influenza. Therefore, the CDC recommended that all patients in high-risk categories should be started on an antiviral medication as soon as possible after they become ill, even before test results confirming the flu are available. Although the medications work best when started within two days of the onset of flu symptoms, they still can be of some help when started later in the illness, which may last for two weeks or more.

Migraine surgery may offer dramatic benefits

Those who suffer from migraine headaches can attest to their debilitating symptoms: severe throbbing or pulsating pain, generally on just one side of the head, which is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Over the past several years, migraine surgery has been available as a potential treatment for people whose severe migraines don’t respond well to medications. Developed by plastic surgeons who noticed that some migraine patients had fewer headaches after undergoing cosmetic forehead lifts, migraine surgery uses one of several techniques to relieve pressure on the nerves that trigger migraines.

People whose migraine headaches don’t respond to conventional treatments may benefit from a plastic surgery procedure.

A new study, published recently in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, used a pain survey called the Pain Self-Efficacy Questionnaire [PSEQ] to evaluate the effectiveness of migraine surgical procedures. It provides information not only on pain scores, but also on functional disability and ability to cope with pain when performing normal daily activities.

The study included 90 patients who underwent migraine surgery between 2013 and 2015. Before and after surgery, patients were evaluated with a standard migraine questionnaire [the Migraine Headache Inventory, or MHI] and with the PSEQ. Before surgery, the patients had generally “extremely poor” PSEQ scores, indicating a high level of disability. One year after migraine surgery, however, the patients showed an extremely large improvement of 112 percent in average PSEQ scores, much higher than previous studies of patients with other types of chronic pain.

“The [study] results show that migraine surgery can lead to dramatic improvements in functioning and coping ability, even in patients who are very disabled before surgery,” said Dr. William G. Austen Jr., of Massachusetts General Hospital, who performed the migraine surgeries in the study patients.

On the calendar

Chesterfield Mall hosts its first-ever health and wellness event, the Gateway to Health 2018 Wellness Expo, from 1-7 p.m on Monday, Feb. 12. in the mall’s lower level center court. The event will feature information from a variety of health and wellness experts, a blood drive sponsored by the American Red Cross, free food samples and live music. For more information, visit chesterfield-mall.com.

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Cholesterol and glucose wellness screenings are available from 7-10:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 16 at the St. Luke’s Hospital Resource Center, 101 St. Luke’s Center Drive in Chesterfield.  Screenings including cholesterol and glucose measurement; a one-on-one consultation with a registered nurse/health coach also includes blood pressure and body composition measurements. The fee for all screenings is $20; a minimum 10-hour fast and advance appointments are required. Register online at stlukes-stl.com.

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Area residents are encouraged to participate in an American Red Cross blood drive from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23 at St. Luke’s Hospital’s Institute for Health Education, 222 S. Woods Mill Road in Chesterfield [North Medical Office Building, Level 2]. To register for an appointment time, visit redcrossblood.org and enter the sponsor code SAINTLUKES or call 314-658-2090.

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St. Luke’s Hospital holds its annual Spirit of Women Day of Dance event from 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Feb. 24 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Conference Center, 16625 Swingley Ridge Road in Chesterfield. Join the largest dance party in St. Louis while learning fun ways to stay healthy, including Zumba and other dance fitness demonstrations. Enjoy a morning of dance, music, health screenings and shopping, along with half-price massage sales. Attendance is free, but registration is required by visiting www.stlukes-stl.com. For more information, call (314) 205-6706.

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