DiversityNursing Blog

Nurse Visits Help First-Time Moms, Cut Government Costs In Long Run

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, May 15, 2015 @ 11:57 AM

MICHELLE ANDREWS

www.npr.org 

symphonie dawson custom dace4345c69592cf6ab851d6025ae1cd4f1d02e9 s400 c85 resized 600While studying to become a paralegal and working as a temp, Symphonie Dawson kept feeling sick. She found out it was because she was pregnant.

Living with her mom and two siblings near Dallas, Dawson, then 23, worried about what to expect during pregnancy and what giving birth would be like. She also didn't know how she would juggle having a baby with being in school.

At a prenatal visit she learned about a group that offers help for first-time mothers-to-be called the Nurse-Family Partnership. A registered nurse named Ashley Bradley began to visit Dawson at home every week to talk with her about her hopes and fears about pregnancy and parenthood.

Bradley helped Dawson sign up for the Women, Infants and Children Program, which provides nutritional assistance to low-income pregnant women and children. They talked about what to expect every month during pregnancy and watched videos about giving birth. After her son Andrew was born in December 2013, Bradley helped Dawson figure out how to manage her time so she wouldn't fall behind at school.

Dawson graduated with a bachelor's degree in early May. She's looking forward to spending time with Andrew and finding a paralegal job. She and Andrew's father recently became engaged.

Ashley Bradley will keep visiting Dawson until Andrew turns 2.

"Ashley's always been such a great help," Dawson says. "Whenever I have a question like what he should be doing at this age, she has the answers."

Home-visiting programs that help low-income, first-time mothers have been around for decades. Lately, however, they're attracting new fans. They appeal to people of all political stripes because the good ones manage to help families improve their lives and reduce government spending at the same time.

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act created the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program and provided $1.5 billion in funding for evidence-based home visits. As a result, there are now 17 home visiting models approved by the Department of Health and Human Services, and Congress reauthorized the program in April with $800 million for the next two years.

The Nurse-Family Partnership that helped Dawson is one of the largest and best-studied programs. Decades of research into how families fare after participating in it have documented reductions in the use of social programs such as Medicaid and food stamps, reductions in child abuse and neglect, better pregnancy outcomes for mothers and better language development and academic performance by their children.

"Seeing follow-up studies 15 years out with enduring outcomes, that's what really gave policymakers comfort," says Karen Howard, vice president for early childhood policy at First Focus, an advocacy group.

But others say the requirements for evidence-based programs are too lenient, and that only a handful of the approved models have as strong a track record as that of the Nurse-Family Partnership.

"If the evidence requirement stays as it is, almost any program will be able to qualify," says Jon Baron, vice president for of evidence-based policy at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which supports initiatives that encourage policymakers to make decisions based on data and other reliable evidence. "It threatens to derail the program."

Topics: women, government, registered nurse, advice, newborn, nursing, health, baby, family, pregnant, RN, nurse, nurses, health care, medical, home visits, new moms, first-time moms, Infants and Children Program

The State of Women in Healthcare: An Update

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Mar 30, 2015 @ 10:11 AM

Halle Tecco

Source: http://rockhealth.com 

Exactly a year ago, we decided to publish the gender data on founders at Rock Health. Despite women being the majority of our team and our board, only 30% of our portfolio companies had a female founder (today, we are at almost 34%). Because we’d like to help our portfolio companies access a diverse talent pool, we began the XX in Health initiative nearly four years ago.

The aim of this initiative is to bring women together to network and support one another. The 2,400 members of the group share resources and ideas on LinkedIn and meet regularly across the country. This week we’re hosting a webinar on the topic for both men and women, and next week we’ll host our sixth XX in Health Retreat in NYC.

Today, through this initiative, we are proud to share our third annual report on the state of women in healthcare. Our past reports on this topic have been some of our most popular content, and we encourage you to share this report with your colleagues.

Women are still underrepresented in leadership positions in healthcare.

Despite making up more than half the healthcare workforce, women represent only 21% of executives and 21% of board members at Fortune 500 healthcare companies. Of the 125 women who carry an executive title, only five serve in operating roles as COO or President. And there’s only one woman CEOof a Fortune 500 healthcare company.

Hospital diversity fares slightly better. At Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals, women make up 27% of hospital boards, and 34% of leadership teams. There are 97 women that carry a C-level title at these hospitals and 10 women serve as hospital CEO.

We know from our funding data that women make up only 6% of digital health CEOs funded in the last four years. When we looked at the gender breakdown of the 148 VC firms investing in digital health, we understood why. Women make up only 10% of partners, those responsible for making final investment decisions. In fact, 75 of those firms have ZERO women partners (including Highland CapitalThird RockSequoiaShasta Ventures). Venture firms with women investment partners are 3X more likely to investin companies with women CEOs. It’s no wonder women CEOs aren’t getting funded.

The problem is real, and the problem matters.

We surveyed over 400 women in the industry to better understand the sentiment around gender discrimination. 96% of the women we surveyed believe gender discrimination still exists. And almost half of them cited gender as one of the biggest hurdles they’ve faced professionally.

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Often these are micro-inequities that compound over one’s career. MIT Professor Mary Rowe describes these instances as “apparently small events which are often ephemeral and hard-to-prove, events which are covert, often unintentional, frequently unrecognized by the perpetrator.” But they create work environments which hold women back.

When senior women are scarce in an organization, a vicious cycle of  “second-generation” gender bias kicks in. Researchers describe this bias as barriers that “arise from cultural assumptions and organizational structures, practices, and patterns of interaction that [put] women at a disadvantage.” Fewer women leaders means fewer role models for would-be women leaders. On the flip side, when women who are early in their career see more women in senior leadership positions, it sends the message that they too belong in the C-suite.

The good news is that achieving diverse leadership teams is not just a moral imperative, it’s good for business too.

Having a diverse team creates a positive, virtuous cycle. Companies with women CEOs outperform the stock market, and companies with women on their boards outperform male-only boards by 26 percent. Researchers even estimate that transitioning from a single-gender office to an office evenly split between men and women be associated with a revenue gain of 41%.

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Not only do companies with more women in leadership yield better economic returns, recent research also suggests it helps mitigate risk. One study shows that each additional female director reduces the number of a company’s attempted takeover bids by 7.6%. Another study indicates that companies with more women on their board had fewer instances of governance-related scandals such as bribery, corruption, fraud, and shareholder battles.

Let’s get together and support one another.

Empower your colleagues to promote gender equality in the workplace. This month we challenge you to reach out to that mentor, manager, peer, or mentee with whom you’ve been meaning to connect with. Ask her to grab coffee and send us a picture by April 30 so we can share it on the XX in Health website!

Topics: women, gender, ceo, health, healthcare, hospitals, positions, digital health, gender discrimination, office

The Role of A Certified Nurse Midwife (Infographic)

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Thu, Mar 26, 2015 @ 11:18 AM

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Source: http://nursingonline.uc.edu

Publisher: http://nursingonline.uc.edu/ (University of Cincinnati Online)

Topics: women, midwife, nursing, healthcare, pregnancy, nurse, career, certified nurse midwife, childbirth

Younger Women Hesitate To Say They're Having A Heart Attack

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Feb 25, 2015 @ 11:41 AM

MAANVI SINGH

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Each year more than 15,000 women under the age of 55 die of heart disease in the United States. And younger women are twice as likely to die after being hospitalized for a heart attack as men in the same age group.

It doesn't help that women tend to delay seeking emergency care for symptoms of a heart attack such as pain and dizziness, says Judith Lichtman, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. "We've known that for a while," she says.

In a small study published Tuesday in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, Lichtman and her colleagues looked into why women delay getting help. The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 30 women, ages 30 to 55, who had been hospitalized after a heart attack.

It turned out that many had trouble recognizing that they were having symptoms of a heart attack. "A lot of them talk about not really experiencing the Hollywood heart attack," Lichtman tells Shots.

A heart attack doesn't necessarily feel like a sudden painful episode that ends in collapse, she notes. And women are more likely than men to experience vague symptoms like nausea or pain down their arms.

"Women may experience a combination of things they don't always associate with a heart attack," Lichtman says. "Maybe we need to do a better job of explaining and describing to the public what a heart attack looks and feels like."

But even when women suspected that they were having a heart attack, many said they were hesitant to bring it up because they didn't want to look like hypochondriacs.

"We need to do a better job of empowering women to share their concerns and symptoms," Lichtman says.

And medical professionals may need to do a better job of listening, she adds. Several women reported that their doctors initially misdiagnosed the pain, assuming that the women were suffering from acid reflux or gas.

Doctors should pay special attention to women who have high blood pressure or cholesterol, as well as those with a family history of heart disease, Lichtman says.

This is just a preliminary study. Lichtman has already started working on a much larger study investigating why women have a higher risk of dying from heart disease than men.

But the findings aren't too surprising, says Dr. Nisha Parikh, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco who wasn't involved in the research.

"I take care of young women who have heart disease, and this story is very common," she says.

Part of the issue is that most of the research on heart disease has focused on men, since the condition is more common among men. As a result, the diagnostic tools that doctors use to identify heart disease aren't always well suited for female patients.

Cardiologists are just beginning to rethink how to best recognize and treat heart attacks in women, Parikh notes.

Heart disease is the third leading cause of death for women ages 35 to 44, and it's the second leading cause of death for women 45 to 54, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Cancer is the No. 1 cause.)

"Historically we thought of heart disease as sort of a man's disease," Parikh says. "But that's not the case."

This study also highlights the importance of empowering women to speak up about their worries, says. Dr. Jennifer Tremmel, a cardiologist at Stanford University.

"It's interesting because the whole idea of female hysteria dates back to ancient times," Tremmel says. "This is an ongoing issue in the medical field, and we all have to empower women patients, so they know that they need to not be so worried about going to the hospital if they're afraid there's something wrong."

Source: www.npr.org

Topics: women, heart attack, emergency, heart disease, heart, health, nurse, nurses, doctors, health care, patients, hospital, young women, heart health

Health Care Opens Stable Career Path, Taken Mainly by Women

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Feb 23, 2015 @ 01:13 PM

For Tabitha Waugh, it was another typical day of chaos on the sixth-floor cancer ward.

The fire alarm was blaring for the second time that afternoon, prompting patients to stumble out of their rooms. One confused elderly man approached Ms. Waugh, a registered nurse at St. Mary’s Medical Center here, but she had no time to console him. An aide was shouting from another room, where a patient sat dazed on the edge of his bed, blood pooling on the floor from the IV he had yanked from his vein.

“Hey, big guy, can you lay back in bed?” she asked, as she cleaned the patient before inserting a new line. He winced. “Hold my hand, O.K.?” she said.

Ms. Waugh, who is 30 and the main breadwinner in her family of four, still had three hours to go before the end of a 12-hour shift. But despite the stresses and constant demands, all the hard work was paying off.

Her wage of nearly $27 an hour provides for a comfortable life that includes a three-bedroom home, a pickup truck and a new sport utility vehicle, tumbling classes for her 3-year-old, Piper, and dozens of brightly colored Thomas the Tank Engine cars heaped under the double bed of her 6-year-old, Collin.

The daughter of a teacher’s aide and a gas station manager, Ms. Waugh, like many other hard-working and often overlooked Americans, has secured a spot in a profoundly transformed middle class. While the group continues to include large numbers of people sitting at desks, far fewer middle-income workers of the 21st century are donning overalls. Instead, reflecting the biggest change in recent years, millions more are in scrubs.

“We used to think about the men going out with their lunch bucket to their factory, and those were good jobs,” said Jane Waldfogel, a professor at Columbia University who studies work and family issues. “What’s the corresponding job today? It’s in the health care sector.”

In 1980, 1.4 million jobs in health care paid a middle-class wage: $40,000 to $80,000 a year in today’s money. Now, the figure is 4.5 million.

The pay of registered nurses — now the third-largest middle-income occupation and one that continues to be overwhelmingly female — has risen strongly along with the increasing demands of the job. The median salary of $61,000 a year in 2012 was 55 percent greater, adjusted for inflation, than it was three decades earlier.

And it was about $9,000 more than the shriveled wages of, say, a phone company repairman, who would have been more likely to head a middle-class family in the 1980s. Back then, more than a quarter of middle-income jobs were in manufacturing, a sector long dominated by men. Today, it is just 13 percent.

As the job market has shifted, women, in general, have more skillfully negotiated the twists and turns of the new economy, rushing to secure jobs in health care and other industries that demand more education and training. Men, by contrast, have been less successful at keeping up.

In many working- and middle-class households, women now earn the bigger paycheck, work longer hours and have greater opportunities for career advancement. As a result, millions of American families are being reconfigured along with the economy.

“The culture still has traditional attitudes about who does what, who brings home the bacon and who scrambles the eggs,” said Isabel Sawhill, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. “The economy is now out of sync with the culture, and I think that’s creating tensions within marriage.”

A New Springboard

At the Waughs’ house, it is T.J. Waugh, 33, who picks up the couple’s two children from the babysitter when he leaves his afternoon shift at a small plant in Huntington.

By the time Ms. Waugh arrives home in rural Salt Rock from her shift, often far later than her 7 p.m. quitting time, the children have been bathed and fed.

The house is usually messy. The bathroom walls are covered with scribbles from bath crayons; dirty clothes pile up. Ms. Waugh often jams six 12-hour shifts into one week, leaving little time for cleaning and laundry. Mr. Waugh mows the lawn and will run the vacuum cleaner now and then, and if there are no clean towels, Ms. Waugh will do a load of laundry. Otherwise, housework waits until she has a stretch of days off.

“I’m just really tired when I get home,” Ms. Waugh said.

Ms. Waugh is the keeper of the family’s books. That she out-earns her husband — a pipe fitter who hunts deer and plays men’s softball on the weekends — is an unspoken given.

“She doesn’t rub that in,” he said.

Without missing a beat, Ms. Waugh adds, “It doesn’t matter where it comes from.”

Most of the new jobs produced by America’s sprawling economy — especially since the turn of the century — are either in highly paid occupations that often require an advanced degree, or, more predominantly, in lower-paid positions providing direct services that cannot be sent overseas and, at least for now, are difficult to automate.

But even with a hollowing out of the job market and a broad stagnation in wages, an analysis by The New York Times has found, a set of occupations has emerged that holds promise as the base of a more robust middle class.

Many are in health care, which has grown sharply over the last few decades.

Economists at the Labor Department project that by 2022, as baby boomers age, health care and social assistance will absorb nearly 20 percent of consumer spending, double the share of manufactured goods. The sector is expected to support over 21 million jobs, five million more than today. This includes half a million more registered nurses.

A Rare Green Shoot

The reordering of the economic landscape can be seen all over West Virginia’s old coal country, where billboards along the highways that run through the region advertise a new cardiac center and an orthopedic clinic; and where a strip mall houses Scrubs Unlimited, a medical outfitter, its retail floor crammed with nursing uniforms in 38 colors and Peter Pan prints.

Hugging the Ohio River as it bends around the Appalachian foothills, Cabell County, which includes Huntington, has often found itself on the wrong side of economic change. The population — about 97,000 today — has shrunk 10 percent over the last three decades, as the old have died and many of the young have left.

The railroad that helps shuttle coal to Huntington, one of the nation’s busiest inland ports, is still a source of jobs. But manufacturing employment — once clustered at the long-gone glassmaking plants and furniture makers — has dwindled to fewer than 5,000 jobs. Recently, a 1920s-era nickel alloy plant laid off dozens of workers after a bankruptcy, a corporate acquisition and weak sales.

In real terms, wages in Cabell County now are lower than in the 1970s, stumbling along well below the national average. One in five residents lives in poverty.

The health care industry — which added 3,000 jobs here over the last 10 years — is one of the few green shoots in a struggling economy.

West Virginia has been battered by the same forces that have reshaped the nation since the late 1970s, when global competition, an overvalued dollar, declining unions and advanced technology began to undercut the jobs created during America’s industrial heyday, deepening income inequality. And since 2000, the share of middle-income workers has been squeezed and wages have stagnated.

Yet many of the jobs added in medical services here and across the nation have turned out to be surprisingly good ones.

That was what motivated the only male registered nurse colleague of Ms. Waugh’s on the sixth-floor cancer unit, Johnny Dial, a former highway construction worker and heavy equipment mechanic. More men are joining nursing, but they still make up only 10 percent of the ranks, compared with 4 percent in 1980.

As Mr. Dial contemplated supporting a family, it came down to health care or the railroad if he wanted job security and benefits. He chose what he thought would be a more fulfilling career, and the same one as his wife, who is also a nurse.

“You get to help people,” Mr. Dial said.

Women Stepped Up

Similar thinking was behind the career choices of Ms. Waugh’s fellow female R.N.s. They include a former waitress, a former journalist, an ex-administrator in a metals factory and a former store clerk at Bath & Body Works. In addition to the satisfaction of the work, they all said, the wages are generally better in health care than they could find in other fields.

Ms. Waugh has urged her husband to try to move up at his company, where he earns about $40,000 in regular wages, plus pay for occasional extra shifts, or to switch to a more lucrative career, maybe even in health care as a radiology technician.

But for Mr. Waugh, the only way up at the plant is to go into sales, a promotion he already turned down because he said he did not want to “deal with people.” He could earn more in the coal mines, but that work is dirty and dangerous.

Mr. Waugh has talked about trying college again; he dropped out twice in the past. At one point, his wife even filled out application papers for him to jump-start his re-enrollment, but he did not pursue class work.

“My philosophy is he is lazy,” Ms. Waugh said, standing in the hospital’s white hallway. “That’s what makes me so mad.”

For all the troubles associated with traditionally male jobs, women have not had an easy ride through the economic turmoil, either.

“The occupational structure has not somehow become more women-friendly,” said David Autor, an economist at M.I.T. who has studied the changing American job market. In fact, he added, “the hollowing out of middle-skill jobs was larger for women than for men.” The process intensified sharply during the financial crisis and the ensuing economic downturn.

But in general women have reacted much better, climbing the educational ladder to capture more of the better jobs. Today, 38 percent of women in their late 20s and early 30s have a college degree, compared with 15 percent 40 years ago. The completion rate for young men is now 7 percentage points lower than for women — back then it was 7 points higher.

This has given women an edge in the new job market: Today, almost 58 percent of registered nurses have a bachelor’s degree or more, compared with about a third in 1980.

This is true across the range of occupations capable of supporting a middle-class life. In 1980, 55 percent of workers who earned the equivalent of $40,000 to $80,000 in today’s dollars had at most a high school diploma, according to the analysis by The Times, which reviewed census returns for employed people ages 25 to 64. Only a quarter had a college degree. Today, the share of college graduates has risen to about 41 percent, while just under 31 percent have completed no more than high school.

“The days when a very, very substantial share of the work force would be able to make good middle-class incomes from jobs that did not require post-high school training are just not the case anymore,” said Francine D. Blau, an economics professor at Cornell University.

Men still hold most of the top jobs in the economy, including seven out of 10 jobs that pay over $80,000 a year. But women are rapidly moving up the ranks. Women hold 44 percent of middle-income jobs, compared with about a quarter 30 years ago.

These trends may not hold forever. Though educational attainment continues to rise for women, their progress in the workplace — in terms of both wages and jobs — has slowed significantly. Tighter controls on the cost of health care could weaken the job growth and pay raises helping support the new American middle. And while the industry is largely immune to foreign competition, it may be affected by advances in labor-saving technology.

Even as more women get ahead, many men are struggling to grab a handhold into higher-paying jobs. After her husband was laid off from a string of auto mechanic jobs, Donna Colbey, 53, urged him to switch careers and become a radiology technician.

It was a job Ms. Colbey knew would offer a good salary and require only two years of training. She had taken the same route, which eventually led her to a nursing career at a Washington hospital.

He enrolled in the courses but dropped out after a few months.

“He got tripped up over the math and didn’t go back,” said Ms. Colbey, who regularly picks up extra shifts to support her family.

A Relentless Pursuit

Far more is expected of nurses now than even two decades ago. Medical advances have kept patients alive longer, meaning many are sicker with more complex illnesses than in the past. Nurses must master technology that helps both treat and track patients, and they are called on to coordinate not just with doctors but also social workers and physical therapists.

At St. Mary’s Medical Center, Ms. Waugh, in her navy scrubs, fed potassium on a recent day into the vein of one woman with a broken hip who was on the cancer floor because of a lack of beds. She gave anti-nausea medicine to a moaning young man with liver cancer in the midst of chemotherapy and prepared pills for a half-dozen other patients, documenting it all on a computer.

An outpatient arrived for his regular blood-drawing and, squatting alongside him in a waiting room, Ms. Waugh unbuttoned his shirt and collected blood from an access port in his chest.

Ms. Waugh’s pursuit of learning to advance her career has been relentless. By her own count, she has been out of school for no longer than two years since kindergarten.

All that education has come with a cost. The couple has amassed about $50,000 in student debt. Ms. Waugh would like to send her children to a better school, but the $10,000 annual tuition that would require is out of reach. “I can’t save for their college and send them to private school,” she said.

To her husband’s co-workers who are raising families on pipe fitters’ salaries, the Waugh family is rich. Ms. Waugh’s purchase of a new Toyota S.U.V. raised eyebrows around the plant.

“We’re not wealthy,” Mr. Waugh said, “but we’re not poor.”

It hasn’t been easy getting to this point. As she made the rounds at the hospital, Ms. Waugh explained how her family was set back in 2008 after Collin was born. She stayed home for one year with the boy, who had digestive problems and required expensive formula. Living on just Mr. Waugh’s salary, they ran through their savings and they accumulated credit card debt that they are still paying off.

“That was a horrible financial situation,” Ms. Waugh said.

But later this year, when her classes and other course work are finished, Ms. Waugh will qualify as a nurse practitioner, a job that she expects will allow her to earn at least 50 percent more than her current salary. And she will be prepared, she believes, for almost anything to come.

“I knew if I was a nurse I could be self-sufficient,” she said, “and wouldn’t have to rely on anyone to take care of me.”

Source: www.nytimes.com

Topics: jobs, women, hire, nursing, health, healthcare, RN, nurse, nurses, health care, hospital, patient, Money, career, Americans, pay, wages, middle-class

Up to 14 Years of Hot Flashes Found in Menopause Study

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Feb 18, 2015 @ 12:05 PM

By PAM BELLUCK

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Conventional wisdom has it that hot flashes, which afflict up to 80 percent of middle-aged women, usually persist for just a few years. But hot flashes can continue for as long as 14 years, and the earlier they begin the longer a woman is likely to suffer, a study published on Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine found.

In a racially, ethnically and geographically diverse group of 1,449 women with frequent hot flashes or night sweats — the largest study to date — the median length of time women endured symptoms was 7.4 years. So while half of the women were affected for less than that time, half had symptoms longer — some for 14 years, researchers reported.

“It’s miserable, I’ll tell you what,” said Sharon Brown, 57, of Winston-Salem, N.C., who has endured hot flashes for six years. At her job at a tax and accounting office, she has had to stop wearing silk.

Mary Hairston found that acupuncture helped with her hot flashes. CreditKaren Tam for The New York Times 

Over all, black and Hispanic women experienced hot flashes for significantly longer periods than white or Asian women. And in a particularly unfair hormonal twist, the researchers found that the earlier hot flashes started, the longer they were likely to continue.

Among women who got hot flashes before they stopped menstruating, the hot flashes were likely to continue for years after menopause, longer than for women whose symptoms began only when their periods had stopped.

“That having symptoms earlier in the transition bodes ill for your symptoms during menopause — that part is certainly new to me,” said Dr. C. Neill Epperson, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Women’s Behavioral Wellness, who was not involved in the study. Perhaps, she and others suggested, early birds are more biologically sensitive to hormonal changes.

And many women fall into the early bird category. In this study, only a fifth of cases started after menopause. One in eight women began getting hot flashes while still having regular periods. For two-thirds of women, they began in perimenopause, when periods play hide and seek but have not completely disappeared.

In numerical terms, women who started getting hot flashes when they were still having regular periods or were in early perimenopause experienced symptoms for a median of 11.8 years. About nine of those years occurred after menopause, nearly three times the median of 3.4 years for women whose hot flashes did not start until their periods stopped.

“If you don’t have hot flashes until you’ve stopped menses, then you won’t have them as long,” said Nancy Avis, a professor of social sciences and health policy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the study’s first author. “If you start later, it’s a shorter total duration and it’s shorter from the last period on.”

Hot flashes, which can seize women many times a day and night — slathering them in sweat, flushing their faces — are linked to drops in estrogen and appear to be regulated by the hypothalamus in the brain. Studies have found that women with hot flash symptoms also face increased risk of cardiovascular problems and bone loss.

Researchers followed the women in the study, who came from seven American cities, from 1996 to 2013. All of them met the researchers’ definition for having frequent symptoms: hot flashes or night sweats at least six days in the previous two weeks.

None had had a hysterectomy or both ovaries removed, and none were on hormone therapy. (If they started taking hormone therapy during the study period, their data stopped being included, Dr. Avis said.)

Although some smaller studies have also found that symptoms can last many years, the new research drew praise from experts because, among other things, it included a larger and much more diverse group of women. One-third of them were African-Americans in Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago and Ypsilanti, Mich. It also included women of Japanese descent in Los Angeles; women of Chinese descent in Oakland, Calif.; and Hispanic women in Newark — about 100 in each group.

“It’s such a real-world study of women we are seeing day in and day out,” said Dr. Risa Kagan, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and the Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation in Berkeley. “There is no other study like this.”

Researchers found significant differences between ethnic groups. African-Americans reported the longest-lasting symptoms, continuing for a median of 10.1 years — twice the median duration of Asian women’s symptoms. The median for Hispanic women was 8.9 years; for non-Hispanic whites, 6.5 years.

Reasons for ethnic differences are unclear. “It could be genetic, diet, reproductive factors, how many children women have,” Dr. Avis said.

The study also found that women with longer-lasting symptoms tended to have less education, greater perceived stress, and more depression and anxiety.

“I’m not at all suggesting that hot flashes are manifestations of depression, but they’re both brain-related phenomena, and depression is also more common in the same groups,” said Dr. Andrew Kaunitz, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Florida who was not involved in the study. It is unclear if stress and emotional issues help cause hot flashes or result from them.

“Women with more stress in their lives may be more aware of their symptoms and perceive them to be more bothersome,” said Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, chief of preventive medicine at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an author of a commentary accompanying the study. “But also having significant night sweats that interrupt sleep can lead to stress.”

Dr. Manson said the new study should help women and doctors anticipate that symptoms may continue longer, and might suggest that some women try different approaches at different times.

Women who are still menstruating, she said, “can become pregnant,” so low-dose contraceptives, which also tame hot flashes, might be recommended until menopause. Hormone therapy might then be prescribed for several years, she said.

But hormone therapy has been linked to increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease for some women. Effective non-hormonal therapies also exist, experts said, including low-dose antidepressants.

Dr. Manson, a past president of the North American Menopause Society, has helped the society develop a free app, MenoPro, to assist women deal with hot flashes, starting with nonmedical approaches like lowering the thermostat and cutting back on spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol.

Ms. Brown and Mary Hairston, 53, tried acupuncture in another study by Dr. Avis and colleagues, and found it helped. Before that, Ms. Hairston said, “every night I would just wake up, dripping wet.”

Now, when she starts sweating at the Italian restaurant where she waitresses, “I go stand in the cooler,” she said. “I used to get cold all the time and I would say I couldn’t wait to have hot flashes. Well, I got over that real quick.”

Source: www.nytimes.com

Topics: women, study, symptoms, menopause, hot flashes, health, patients, treatment

Nurses Wanted: Largest Women’s Health Study Expanding To Include Men; Seeking 100,000 Nurses

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Fri, Feb 13, 2015 @ 10:27 AM

Nurses’ Health Study recruits “next generation”

Boston, MA - From the dangers of tobacco and trans fats to the benefits of physical activity and whole grains, much of what we know about health today is thanks to the Nurses’ Health Study.

Researchers are recruiting 100,000 nurses and nursing students to join the long-running Nurses’ Health Study and expand its landmark research on health and well-being. And for the very first time, male nurses and students are being invited to join. 

RNs, LPNs, and nursing students between the ages of 19 and 46 who live in the US or Canada are eligible to join the study. More than 38,000 have signed up already, and recruitment will stay open until the goal of 100,000 participants is reached.

Researchers hope to engage a highly diverse group of nurses in the “next generation” of the study. For the first time, nursing students are eligible to enroll.

In order to make participation as convenient as possible for busy nurses, participants can join online and complete the study’s surveys through a secure website, http://www.nhs3.org/.

More than 250,000 nurses have participated in the study since the 1970s. By completing confidential lifestyle surveys, they have helped advance medical knowledge about nutrition, exercise, cancer, heart disease, and many other conditions.

“Nurses were originally recruited for their expertise in accurately reporting health data,” explains Dr. Walter Willett, the study’s lead researcher and Chair of the Nutrition Department at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass. “Their involvement has been invaluable, and their dedication is remarkable—an astounding 90% of them are still enrolled, decades later! The new group, NHS3, will allow us understand how today’s lifestyle and environment affect a person’s health in the future.”

Nurses enrolled in the earlier studies are encouraging their children and younger colleagues to join. “My mom started filling out surveys when the study began,” one nurse recently commented on the NHS3 Facebook page (www.facebook.com/NHS3.org). “I am so proud to be part of this study and see what it has done.”


###

NURSES’ HEALTH STUDIES
Started in 1976 and expanded in 1989, the Nurses’ Health Studies have led to many important insights on health and well-being, including cancer prevention, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Most importantly, these studies showed that diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors can powerfully promote better health.

Contact: Michael Keating
617-432-7078

 nhs3@channing.harvard.edu

SOURCE Nurses Health Study 3    www.nhs3.org

Topics: women, study, men, nursing students, nursing, health, nurse, nurses, medical, health study

Laughing Gas Now Becoming Popular Option for Women Giving Birth

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jan 26, 2015 @ 12:51 PM

By AVIANNE TAN

ht midwife nitrous oxide demonstration jc 150122 16x9 992 resized 600

A Minneapolis mom who wanted a natural birth was more than 13 hours into labor when she felt she wasn't going to make it without something to take the edge off the pain. But rather than asking for an epidural or narcotics, she begged for laughing gas.

"It immediately took my fear away and helped calm me down, though I could still feel the pain," Megan Goodoien, who gave birth at the Minnesota Birthing Center this month, told ABC News today. "I didn't laugh because the labor was so intense, but I everything suddenly felt doable just when I thought I couldn't make it anymore. It's definitely a mental thing."

Though nitrous oxide has long been used in European countries and Canada, the gas is now making a resurgence in the U.S., according to medical experts.

The gas, once popular in the U.S., was sidelined after the advent of the epidural in the 1930's, midwife Kerry Dixon told ABC News, noting she believes epidurals took over because they were more profitable. Dixon did not treat Goodoien but works at the Minnesota Birthing Center.

"The average cost for a woman opting for nitrous oxide is less than a $100, while an epidural can run up to $3,000 because of extra anesthesia fees," Dixon said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved new nitrous oxide equipment for delivery room use in 2011, which could also explain the resurgence, Dixon told ABC News.

"Maybe 10 years ago, less than five or 10 hospitals used it [for women in labor]," Dr. William Camann, director of obstetric anesthetics at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told ABC News. "Now, probably several hundred. It’s really exploded. Many more hospitals are expressing interest."

He added the gas popular in dentists' offices has an "extraordinary safety record" in delivery rooms outside the U.S. But more studies are needed to confirm its safety, other doctors say.

Laughing gas works differently than an epidural or narcotic in that it targets pain more on a mental level than physical, experts said.

"It's a relatively mild pain reliever that causes immediate feelings of relaxation and helps relieve anxiety," Camman said. "It makes you better able to cope with whatever pain you’re having."

But gas can also change awareness, said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a senior medical contributor for ABC News and practicing OB/GYN.

"In delivering over 1,500 babies, I had never used it nor has anyone asked for [nitrous oxide]," Ashton told ABC News. "[M]ost moms want to be totally aware when they are in labor."

Mothers who have opted for nitrous oxide like that it's self-administered by the patient, who has total control over if and when it's used.

A Nashville mother said she opted for the gas during labor only after she found herself too tense to push.

"I instantly felt relaxed," Shauna Zurawski told ABC News. "Before, I was so tense. I was fighting against the contractions, which definitely wasn't good. But after the laughing gas, my body was able to do what it was supposed to. It was so neat."

Both Goodoien and Zurawski said they put a nitrous oxide machine's mouthpiece over their mouth and nose and inhaled about 30 seconds before their next contraction to get the maximum effect.

Another advantage is that the chemical gets out of your system shortly after stopping inhalation.

"With my first child, I had an epidural, I was numb for so long after the delivery and it took a while to get back to normal," Zurawski said. "But with the nitrous oxide, I was walking around and taking pictures almost right after."

Both Goodoien and Zurawski said they didn't experience any adverse side effects.

Nitrous oxide's possible side effects are usually just minor nuisances such as nausea, dizziness or drowsiness, medical experts told ABC News.

Patients can also choose to stop or get an epidural at any time if they find they don't want the laughing gas.

It's still early to tell how popular this new option will get, but in countries like New Zealand, about 70 percent of women in labor choose to use laughing gas, Dixon said.

"When I was working in New Zealand, I told one of my patients, [laughing gas] wasn't really used in the U.S. and you know what she said?" Dixon asked. "'I thought they have everything in America!'"

Source: http://abcnews.go.com

Topics: physician, women, birth, laughing gas, nitrous oxide, pregnant, nurse, nurses, doctors, hospital

Overweight and Pregnant

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, Jul 09, 2014 @ 11:01 AM

Pregnancy, or the desire to become pregnant, often inspires women to take better care of themselves — quitting smoking, for example, or eating more nutritiously.

But now many women face an increasingly common problem: obesity, which affects 36 percent of women of childbearing age. In addition to hindering conception, obesity — defined as a body mass index above 30 — is linked to a host of difficulties during pregnancy, labor and delivery.

These range from gestational diabetes, hypertension and pre-eclampsia to miscarriage, premature birth, emergency cesarean delivery and stillbirth.

The infants of obese women are more likely to have congenital defects, and they are at greater risk of dying at or soon after birth. Babies who survive are more likely to develop hypertension and obesity as adults.

To be sure, most babies born to overweight and obese women are healthy. Yet a recently published analysis of 38 studies found that even modest increases in a woman’s pre-pregnancy weight raised the risks of fetal death, stillbirth and infant death.

Personal biases and concerns about professional liability lead some obstetricians to avoid obese patients. But Dr. Sigal Klipstein, chairwoman of the committee on ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, says it is time for doctors to push aside prejudice and fear. They must take more positive steps to treat obese women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant.

Dr. Klipstein and her colleagues recently issued a report on ethical issues in caring for obese women. Obesity is commonly viewed as a personal failing that can be prevented or reversed through motivation and willpower. But the facts suggest otherwise.

Although some people manage to shed as much as 100 pounds and keep them off without surgery, many obese patients say they’ve tried everything, and nothing has worked. “Most obese women are not intentionally overeating or eating the wrong foods,” Dr. Klipstein said. “Obstetricians should address the problem, not abandon patients because they think they’re doing something wrong.”

Dr. Klipstein is a reproductive endocrinologist at InVia Fertility Specialists in Northbrook, Ill. In her experience, the women who manage to lose weight are usually highly motivated and use a commercial diet plan.

“But many fail even though they are very anxious to get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy,” she said. “This is the new reality, and obstetricians have to be aware of that and know how to treat patients with weight issues.”

The committee report emphasizes that “obese patients should not be viewed differently from other patient populations that require additional care or who have increased risks of adverse medical outcomes.” Obese patients should be cared for “in a nonjudgmental manner,” it says, adding that it is unethical for doctors to refuse care within the scope of their expertise “solely because the patient is obese.”

Obstetricians should discuss the medical risks associated with obesity with their patients and “avoid blaming the patient for her increased weight,” the committee says. Any doctor who feels unable to provide effective care for an obese patient should seek a consultation or refer the woman to another doctor.

Obesity rates are highest among women “of lower socioeconomic status,” the report notes, and many obese women lack “access to healthy food choices and opportunities for regular exercise that would help them maintain a normal weight.”

Nonetheless, obese women who want to have a baby should not abandon all efforts to lose weight. Obstetricians who lack expertise in weight management can refer patients to dietitians who specialize in treating weight problems without relying on gimmicks or crash diets, which have their own health risks.

Weight loss is best attempted before a pregnancy. Last year, the college’s committee on obstetric practice advised obstetricians to “provide education about possible complications and encourage obese patients to undertake a weight-reduction program, including diet, exercise, and behavior modification, before attempting pregnancy.”

An obese woman who becomes pregnant should aim to gain less weight than would a normal-weight woman. The Institute of Medicine suggests a pregnancy weight gain of 15 to 25 pounds for overweight women and 11 to 20 pounds for obese women.

Although women should not try to lose weight during pregnancy, “a woman who weighs 300 pounds shouldn’t gain at all,” Dr. Klipstein said. “This is not harmful to the fetus.”

Dr. Klipstein also noted that obesity produces physiological changes that can affect pregnancy, starting with irregular ovulation that can result in infertility.

Obese women are more likely to have problems processing blood sugar, which raises the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. There is also a greater likelihood that their baby will be too large for a vaginal delivery, requiring a cesarean delivery that has its own risks involving anesthesia and surgery.

The babies of obese women are more likely to develop neural tube defects — spina bifida and anencephaly — and to suffer birth injuries like shoulder dystocia, which may occur when the infant is very large.

High blood pressure, more common in obesity, can result in pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, which can damage the mother’s kidneys and cause fetal complications like low birth weight, prematurity and stillbirth.

It is also harder to obtain reliable images on a sonogram when the woman is obese. This can delay detection of fetal or pregnancy abnormalities that require careful monitoring or medical intervention.

Topics: women, obese, health, pregnant, babies

Gender may affect the way people feel pain

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Jun 09, 2014 @ 01:02 PM

By AGATA BLASZCZAK-BOXE

men women pain

Do men and women feel pain differently? A new study finds an unexpected gender divide.

Researchers found that men tend to report feeling more pain after major surgeries than women, whereas women tend to report experiencing more pain after minor surgical procedures than men.

In the study, researchers found that men were 27 percent more likely to report higher pain ratings after a major surgery such as a knee replacement, while women were 34 percent more likely to report experiencing more pain after procedures that the researchers labeled as minor, such as biopsies. (The researchers differentiated between "major" and "minor" procedures depending on the intensity of pain that people typically expect to feel after a particular procedure.)

To conduct the study, the researchers interviewed 10,200 patients from the University Hospitals of the Ruhr University of Bochum, Germany, following an operation, over more than four years. About 42 percent of the patients were male and 58 percent were female.

Initially, the study authors didn't find significant differences between the genders in people's overall experience of postoperative pain. However, that changed when the researchers distinguished between different kinds of surgeries.

The researchers are not sure where these differences stem from; however, they speculate that a lot may depend on the kind of surgery a person is undergoing. For instance, procedures such as cancer-related biopsies or an abortion may take a particularly serious emotional toll on women, and therefore exacerbate their individual perceptions of pain.

"It could be anxiety," study author Dr. Andreas Sandner-Kiesling of Medical University of Graz, Austria, told CBS News.

"This is a very interesting study," Dr. M. Fahad Khan, an assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at NYU Langone Medical Center, told CBS News. "Ten thousand patients in any type of study is a huge number, and it is really great to see studies on that number of patients because it can limit a lot of the bias that some studies have."

Khan noted he found it interesting that in women, even smaller procedures "can be fraught with the development of pain problems after the procedure," which many people may not expect when they go to the hospital for a simple biopsy, he said.

Sandner-Kiesling said he did not think the findings should change the way men and women are treated for pain. "Clinically, there is no relevance," he said.

According to certain popular cultural stereotypes, women are often considered to be tougher about dealing with pain than men, but is this really the case?

"Anecdotally, people will say that women have a higher threshold for pain and they are more tolerant to pain, just because of their life experience. And perhaps, emotionally, maybe they are stronger than men," Khan said. "However, medically, in my experience, we haven't really noticed much of a difference with regard to men and women in the development of problems with dealing with severe and chronic pain."

The new study is presented at this year's Euroanaesthesia meeting in Stockholm.

Source:cbsnews.com


Topics: women, men, pain, health, medical

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