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Health Notes

Inova Blood Donor Services Blood Drives. For locations and times to donate blood, call 1-866-256-6372

A package of publications on taking medications correctly and ordering them safely online is available from The Federal Consumer Information Center and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The package contains "FDA’s Tips for Taking Medicines," "Drug Interactions: What You Should Know" and "Buying Prescription Medicines Online: A Consumer Safety Guide." The materials are free. Call 888-878-3256 and request the "Your Medications" package, or send your name and address to Your Medications, Pueblo, CO 81009.

The Asthma Auto program of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Maryland-Greater Washington, D.C., Chapter, is accepting donations of unwanted vehicles to raise money to fund educational programs, asthma care training, scholarships, research, and patient assistance for area residents. Call 800-727-9333.

Visit www.Pollen.com to subscribe to Allergy Alert, a free e-mail notification service, to be notified automatically when conditions in the area are expected to be near uncomfortable levels. The Allergy Alert forecast considers more than 1,470 biological and meteorological factors and is based on 20 years of historical pollen data gathered by a national network of professionally trained pollen counters.

The National Institute on Aging has designed an at-home exercise program for older people. The program is based on medical research and emphasizes exercises for endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. To order the exercise book and 48-minute video, send a check or money order for $7 payable to the National Institute on Aging to NIAIC, Dept. BR, PO Box 8057, Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057. Call 1-800-222-2225 or visit www.maillist.org/exercise for more information.

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, formerly the Food Allergy Network, has launched an electronic newsletter for teens with food allergy. “Food Allergy News for Teens” is a bimonthly newsletter distributed free to teen-agers by e-mail. The newsletter covers topics such as dating, dining out, managing food allergy on the job, and tips on carrying medications. To sign up to receive the newsletter, log on to www.fanteen.org.

National Cancer Institute (NCI) offers its Web site, www.cancer.gov for the latest information. Billed as “a one-stop resource for cancer information” the site reorganizes NCI’s information sites cancer.net and cancer.trials within cancer.gov. Information in the site is arranged by topic.

Depression and Manic Depression Support Group, the Sterling/Reston Chapter of DRADA, meets the first and third Tuesdays of the month, from 7-9 p.m. For location, contact Traci, 703-433-1448, or Jan at 703-669-5177. DRADA stands for Depressive and Related Affective Disorders Association, a nonprofit, self-help group sponsored by Johns Hopkins, which has been in existence for over 20 years.

Free breast and cervical cancer screenings are available through the Loudoun County Health Department for women between the ages of 40 and 65 who live in Loudoun County meeting income and program guidelines. Applicants must be able to document legal residency, meet poverty guidelines, lack health insurance (or their health insurance deductible does not cover or meet screening and mammography costs). Women must apply in person at the Loudoun County Health Department Clinic in Leesburg to determine eligibility. Screening services include a physical breast exam, a Pap test, and referral for a free mammogram when recommended. The Health Department Clinic is located at 100 Heritage Way N.E. in Leesburg in the Shenandoah Building in the Wal-Mart Plaza Shopping Center. Call 703-737-8474.

A birth mother's support group will meet weekly in northern Virginia. It is for any woman who has ever placed a child in adoption and would like to meet with others who have done the same. For more information call Pat Cunningham or Stephanie Hayden at Catholic Charities at 703-425-0100.

Foster parents are needed in the area. Call Children’s Services of Virginia at 703-331-0075 or visit www.childrensservicesofva.com for more information.

The American Lung Association of Virginia is offering an e-mail service to residents in areas affected by smog-unhealthy levels of ozone pollution, which includes the Northern Virginia-Metropolitan D.C. area. Subscribers will receive smog alerts the day before ozone pollution levels are predicted to be unhealthy. Individuals with chronic lung or heart disease and sensitive populations, such as children and the elderly, can then take action to protect themselves by reducing or limiting outdoor activities. High concentrations of ozone can cause symptoms such as coughing, throat irritation and difficulty breathing, and also may increase susceptibility of the lungs to infections, allergens and other air pollutants. The daily forecast is provided to the American Lung Association from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. For more information on ozone pollution and to sign up for the Smog Alert, visit www.lungusa.org/virginia.

Virginia Department of Health offers a Guide to Protect Children from Dog Bites. For this information on how to be safe around dogs, contact the Virginia Department of Health's Center for Injury and Violence Prevention toll-free at 1-800-732-8333.

“Choosing an Assisted Living Facility: Considerations for Making the Right Decision,” a booklet produced by the Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living (CCAL) in cooperation with the MetLife Mature Market Institute, can be ordered by calling 703-533-8121. Single copies are $10 each.

CCAL offers the following tips to begin the search for a facility:

* Make an accurate and honest assessment of your physical, financial, mental and lifestyle needs;

* Visit as many facilities as you can to get a sense of the choices in your area;

* Narrow down your selection to the top two or three choices, and return to those facilities and ask lots of questions. Talk to the residents;

* Ask to review a copy of the Resident Agreement (facility contract);

* Ask to review the licensing or certification inspection report;

* Make an unannounced visit to the facility.

The Reach to Recovery Program of the American Cancer Society offers free services to women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo recent surgery. A trained volunteer who has survived breast cancer is available to talk with patients confidentially, provide helpful information and offer emotional support. A Reach “kit” is given to each patient, which includes a leisure bra, a soft prosthesis for mastectomy patients, exercise items and literature. Call 703-938-5550.

The Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization provides free services including educational programs and lectures, brown-bag seminars, quarterly newsletters, and a 24-hour HOPEline. The HOPEline (703-461-9616 or 1-800-970-4411) is staffed by trained breast-cancer survivors who provide information and emotional support to callers. Call 703-461-9595 or visit www.y-menca.org for more information.

To help Virginians make better-informed health-care purchasing decisions, Virginia Health Information (VHI), a nonprofit independent organization, has published information on its Web site, www.vhi.org, that reports on the inpatient cardiac care provided at all licensed hospitals in Virginia. The information compares their performance and mortality outcomes. VHI’s study is based on over 100,000 cardiac patient discharges submitted by Virginia hospitals for the year 2000.

The American Heart Association offers many tools to improve nutrition and fitness. At the grocery store, shoppers can look for the heart-check mark on products, signifying foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Quick and tasty heart-healthy recipes as well as tips for grocery shopping and ingredient substitutions can be found at www.deliciousdecisions.org. Many cookbooks, such as the “American Heart Association Quick & Easy Cookbook,” can be found in area bookstores.

Online information and support can be found at www.MyHeartWatch.org, with such features as Ask an Expert, Personal Stories, and Health Planners, which include weight and nutrition calculators, exercise diaries and more.

Two lifestyle brochures, “Managing Your Weight” and “An Eating Plan for Healthy Americans,” are available free by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

A free, 12-week physical-activity program, sponsored by Bayer, “Choose to Move,” helps women make simple changes that result in increasing their activity level. Call 1-888-MY-HEART to receive a registration packet.

The Lifestyle Medical Program provides oxygen, medications and nebulizers at no cost to patients with severe breathing problems, such as asthma, emphysema and COPD. Patients must meet additional guidelines to qualify for the program. Call 800-519-4480 for more information.

The American Institute for Cancer Research offers a free brochure, “Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer,” which provides guidelines and tips on how to control dietary and other lifestyle factors that affect a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Also available is “Questions and Answers about Breast Health and Breast Cancer,” which provides detailed information on breast cancer risk, treatment and early detection, including how to do a self-examination. Call 800-843-8114, Ext. 25.

A growing number of senior citizens are using e-mail to import their prescription drugs by mail order. FDA statistics confirm that more than two million packages of prescription drugs were imported last year.

www.Medicines.MD is a consumer-focused Web site with updated price listings for more than 2,000 prescription drugs. Seniors can use the free price-quote feature on www.Medicines.MD to compare costs when their prescription medicine is imported by mail-order.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recently launched a major new heart-attack education campaign called “Act in Time to Heart Attack Signs.” The campaign is an effort to raise awareness among both the general public and physicians about the need for a fast response. Key messages encourage recognition of heart-attack symptoms, working with a physician to create a heart-attack survival plan, and calling 911 as soon as symptoms begin. Campaign partners, the American Red Cross and the National Council on Aging, will be offering “Act in Time” classes. Various educational materials, including a booklet and video, are available for health-care workers, heart-attack patients and the public through the NHLBI Web site at www.nhlbi.nih.gov. For more information, also visit www.americanheart.org, wwwnena.org, www.redcross.org, and www.ncoa.org.

Three Wishes Program makes power wheelchairs available to senior citizens (65 years and up) and the permanently disabled with no cost to the recipient if they qualify. The power wheelchairs are provided to those who cannot walk and cannot self-propel a manual wheelchair in their home, and who meet the additional guidelines of the program. No deposit is required. Call 800-451-0971 for more information.