February is American Heart Month, and experts stressed it is important to know the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest.

According to UnitedHealthcare, heart attacks occur when clogged arteries block blood flow to the heart, while cardiac arrest means the heart is not beating due to an electrical malfunction and subsequent abnormal heartbeat.

Dr. Jim Liu, a cardiologist at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, explained common symptoms include chest pain, but said people often can experience more subtle changes.

“People can feel more of a chest with comfort, whether it’s pressure, tightness or a burning sensation,” Liu pointed out. “Patients may often feel short of breath, break out in cold sweat, feel nauseated or get sick to their stomach.”

In 2017, more than 28,000 Ohioans died from heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For both conditions, it’s best to call 911 and immediately perform CPR, which involves chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing.

Dr. Ravi Johar, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare, said starting CPR quickly can mean the difference between life or death.

“You can start to have brain death within about three minutes or so and irreversible damage within eight minutes after the heart stops beating,” Johar explained. “If you can start something prior to that, there’s a tremendous chance of improvement, and almost a miraculous improvement in many cases.”

According to the American Heart Association, people performing high-quality CPR should apply chest compressions of adequate rate and depth and minimize interruptions, avoiding leaning on the person, ensure proper hand placement, and avoid excessive ventilation.

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This March marks the 50th anniversary of National Nutrition Month.

Making sure children eat healthy can be tricky.

Chuck Larimer, an elementary school physical education teacher in Stayton, southeast of Salem, said his school has been part of the American Heart Association’s Kids Heart Challenge for 23 years.

He observed students look forward to the program, but it’s not just about getting active.

“There’s more to it than just exercise, which is also important,” Larimer explained. “It’s that whole body wellness that’s more of a focus”

The Kids Heart Challenge has been going on for nearly 45 years in elementary, middle and high schools across the country.

The American Heart Association said a few tips for parents can help introduce healthy foods to kids, even if they’re picky eaters. Parents should include at least one item in meals everyone at the table likes. The group urged parents to shop and cook with their kids, and not get discouraged.

“I know at least with my boys’ experience that taste buds do change and things that taste weird, or they might not like early on,” Larimer noted. “That can change. And just try to continue to introduce different items.”

Research has shown it can take at least 11 tries for a child to decide they like a new food, according to the American Heart Association. It also advised parents to offer fruits and vegetables when it is snack time to get them used to it.

Disclosure: The American Heart Association-Western States Region contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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Drug-maker Sanofi has joined two other large manufacturers in capping monthly insulin prices at $35. In Iowa, advocates for more affordable health care say it’s encouraging news, but they want state lawmakers to mandate the price limit for everyone who needs insulin.

Three major manufacturers are capping insulin prices for people with private insurance, and for Medicare “Part D” recipients. For people who don’t have either, and are on plans regulated by the state, insulin prices can vary dramatically.

AARP Iowa State Director Brad Anderson said that uncertainty leaves a lot of Iowans vulnerable.

“Here in Iowa at the state level,” said Anderson, “there are still around a quarter of a million Iowans on health insurance plans that are regulated by the state, where their insulin is not capped at $35 per month.”

Anderson said the new drug-company price caps are a step in the right direction, but he points out that the companies could decide to change or lift the caps at any time. He said only a state law would end the uncertainty.

Anderson said there is still some question over whose insulin costs are capped and whose are not, which only adds to the confusion.

AARP Iowa is pushing for price-cap uniformity for anyone who needs the drug.

“We we want to pass a law at the state level,” said Anderson, “saying that regardless of whether you’re on Medicare or if you’re on a plan regulated by the state health insurance commissioner, your insulin is capped at $35 a month.”

AARP says insulin costs have risen 600% over the past 20 years, and 14% of Americans who use insulin say it consumes at least 40% of their available income.

Insulin price caps are part of AARP’s Iowa’s legislative agenda, but a bill has not yet been introduced.

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As the cost of food, medicine and rent continues to climb, new data shows the benefits miners receive are now 40% less than what they received in 1969, when adjusted for inflation.

Vonda Robinson, Vice President of the National Black Lung Association, said she is grateful for the benefits her husband receives, but points out the high cost of gas and grocery bills are a constant challenge.

“My husband worked in the coal mines for 30 years.” Robinson said. “He had to come out of the coal mines when he was 47 years old due to complications with his breathing. We had no idea he had black lung.”

According to a report from the Appalachian Citizens Law Center, the black lung benefit rate for a miner with no dependents is now $738 a month, while the current cost of living in Kentucky and other coal states is around three-and-a-half times that amount.

Chelsea Barnes, director of government affairs and strategy with Appalachian Voices, said the federal government could move to untangle miner benefits from the federal pay scale and instead tie them to inflation.

“This isn’t a change that will break the bank,” Barnes said. “Instead, it will ensure that coal miners and their families have the basic safety net they deserve to survive. “

According to the Department of Labor in 2018, the average yearly cost
for medical treatment was slightly under $10,000 per miner.

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