Category Archives: Patients

Making Medicine Personal in Respiratory Health

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Previously, we shared how we’re Making Medicine Personal for patients. We’re continuing the conversation by focusing on how we’re treating respiratory diseases.

Your health and that of your loved ones is one of the most important aspects of life. It’s also the most important aspect of our work. For more than 40 years, we’ve addressed respiratory challenges to improve millions of lives – and we’re not slowing down. We’re constantly developing new methods to advance quality of life while avoiding unnecessary costs and adding value to the overall healthcare system.

We understand that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work in healthcare. Your cellular and molecular makeup is unique to you and you only. That’s why we’re focusing on tailored, individualized treatments to ensure that the right treatment is being delivered to the right patient.

Here’s how we’re doing this through innovation, patient assistance, and collaboration:

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One of the main challenges of respiratory health is identifying the right dosage and treatment for each patient. With this in mind, we’re using new technologies, such as co-suspension technology, to enable consistent delivery of one or more different medicines in a single device, and we’re investigating biologics that have the potential to deliver uniquely targeted treatment for patients.

And that’s just the beginning. Access to proper treatment is the first step, but ensuring that patients maintain their treatments and adhere to doctor recommendations is equally important. Programs like Stay Connected Medication Adherence, AZCaRes™, and Health Journey Support allow us to be the patient’s coach and cheerleader.

“I’m so grateful for AstraZeneca’s savings cards. Your medicine has improved my asthma as the doctor believed it would.”

– AstraZeneca patient 

Hearing patients like the one above talk about how our programs have helped them brings meaning to our work. And that’s why we will never stop looking for ways to support and advocate for patients.

But we’re not in this alone. At AstraZeneca, we believe there is strength in numbers. Collaborative partnerships around the world enable us to pioneer research, technology, and awareness to improve patient outcomes. From working with the COPD Foundation to create one of the largest patient networks in existence, to collaborating with Adherium to explore the impact of technology on adherence, to annually partnering with the CHEST Foundation during World COPD Day and National COPD Awareness Month, our partnerships are key to our efforts.

At the end of the day, it’s our job to make sure our medicines bring value to you and the entire healthcare system. In future blog posts, we’ll share how we’re making medicine personal for patients living with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases as well as patients receiving cancer treatment. Stay tuned.

“I had no idea that there were other forms of constipation” – A Patient’s OIC Story

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For patients with chronic pain, taking a prescribed opioid treatment for long-term pain management may provide pain relief but can also cause opioid-induced constipation (OIC). However, some patients may not realize that constipation is one of the most common side effects of their prescription opioid treatment. They may be too embarrassed to talk about their symptoms with their doctor. AstraZeneca is committed to raising awareness about OIC to drive an important patient-physician dialogue about one of the most common side effects of opioid therapy.

To help educate others about this medical condition, AstraZeneca sat down with Lynn Crisci, a 38-year-old Boston Marathon bombing survivor who is experiencing OIC as a result of managing her chronic pain with opioids as prescribed by her doctor.

AZ: Lynn, tell us about your chronic pain journey.

Lynn: In 2006, I suffered a disabling accident, which left me bedbound and in a wheelchair, on and off medications and at doctors’ offices almost every day of the week. I had a six year journey from wheelchair to walking again and was starting to finish my BA in theater arts. I only had 12 classes left to go when I sustained severe injuries during the Boston Marathon attack on April 15, 2013 – and that’s when my injuries left me in so much chronic pain that opioid pain therapy became part of my daily life.

AZ: When did you first start to experience OIC?

Lynn: I noticed within weeks of starting to take the opioids that I had some pretty severe constipation.

AZ: When you first started to notice these changes, what did you do?

Lynn: I didn’t get the courage to bring it up to my primary care physician or any of my specialists. It was my new normal and I started to think that all pain was normal and I wasn’t sure what I should tell my doctor about, I wasn’t sure if it was new pain, or normal pain, because you hear from doctors so many times, “Oh, that’s normal. That’s normal.”

AZ: How would you describe the impact OIC has had on your life?

Lynn: I just feel like OIC controls my life. You end up planning your days and what you accept for work, what you accept for social activities. You end up saying “no” a lot when you really want to say “yes”, because you’re just afraid of being embarrassed. It’s very isolating. I don’t tell people why I’m saying no.

AZ: If you knew someone else being prescribed opioids, what would you tell them about OIC?

Lynn:

For Lynn, starting the conversation was the first step to finding support for her OIC. Talking about the full impact of OIC may be difficult, but it’s important to have a discussion about it with your healthcare provider. AstraZeneca encourages health care providers and patients with chronic pain to have an open conversation about OIC and the benefits and risks of prescription opioid treatment. For more information about OIC and guidance to help begin the conversation, visit our community blog, www.ohIsee.com.

A Patient’s Perspective during Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week

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By Jessica Tar, patient advocate

jess headshot2010 was truly a year that delivered the worst to my life. In April, the unexpected death of my father, a non-smoker, from lung cancer, revealed the mystery of this disease and at times, its unidentifiable origins. My family and I had no idea of how he had developed such an aggressive disease, taking his life only four months after being diagnosed. Unbelievably, my shock was to be exceeded just nine months after my father’s death when I received the news of my own diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma.

Seated in the office of my oral surgeon, the jolt and despair were instantaneous. The results of the biopsy my doctor had performed the month before were in, and the cells located on the side of my tongue were definitively malignant. This happened a year after I noticed a painful spot in my mouth, an area that seemed to wax and wane with sensitivity depending on what foods I ate and the degree to which I talked. That October, I surrendered to a pang of worry and made a phone call to the trusted surgeon that had removed my wisdom teeth nine years earlier.

The small sore on my tongue that was present during the time when my dad was alive, was connected with an oral cancer diagnosis. I pleaded out loud over this because on one of many levels, it was absurd. Immediately, I associated this disease with tobacco use, and I had never smoked in my life. At 28 and living in New Jersey, I was busier than ever, teaching swimming lessons, studying art in school, singing the national anthem at local events and I had proudly just completed acting work on my second short film in six months. Despite my sorrowful year, I was succeeding in all of the areas I had aspirations in. I racked my brain, mulling over how I could have taken my good health for granted in all the bustle of the year.

I waited until the end of the day to tell my husband, TJ. My mother and sisters were in such a state of despair over the loss of my father that I couldn’t believe I was tasked with burdening them further. The result of my lousy news to all parties was emotional chaos. I told myself and everyone around me that I was mindfully strong and assumed a responsibility to be both proactive and fanatical when it came to my treatment plan.

I was tested and scanned and talked to every medical professional I had access to. I digested and parsed out a lot of advice. My search for an oncologic surgeon was far and wide, extending to Manhattan and Cleveland. I confidently decided on a specialist in New York and from there on out I would frequently be in and out of the city, not for auditions or filming, but instead, for my health, for my life.

Introspectively, I prepared for my impending surgery by putting my ego on overdrive and telling my family, my best friend and my mother-in-law (a stationary aficionado) that I didn’t want so much as a “get-well” card. I was going to be fine and back at it in no time. (Right?). Truthfully, I was so afraid that I knew a glance at sickness-related materials bearing my name might crash my game face. They humored me and in mid-January I spent five quiet days in the hospital with nothing but a smiley faced balloon that waved in the breeze of the heating vent at night. I stuffed it into the closet in my room and commenced my recovery from a partial glossectomy (removal of the tongue) and neck dissection, a secondary procedure necessary due to the proximity of the carcinoma to my lymph nodes, which can be a superhighway for cancer cells.

My surgery was followed by a welcome ruling of turtlenecks and speech therapy. A few weeks later, the news I had been holding out all hope for was revealed. My oral surgery was successful and the cancer had not spread elsewhere within my body. For myself, the real impact of having cancer was the mental portion, which was greater than any physical repercussion of my experience. I had been depressed, especially when I related my position to singing or just trying to talk to the cashier at the supermarket in that first year. My tongue, as I knew it, was not ever going to be the same for the rest of my life. I could not let what happened compromise my mind; my state of living, despite the reminder with every word I spoke.

What I endured wasn’t nothing, it was something; a way to stay alive and healthy on the planet. It is this survivalist mentality that drives me forward as a mother to my children, my life force; as a wife to my best friend and husband, TJ; and now as a patient advocate. It is this month during Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week® (OHANCAW®) that I dedicate this perspective of strength to the patients and families of head and neck oncology. For no matter what changes our bodies withstand over the course of our lives, we must move forward as survivors and actively participate in the pursuit of our healthiest selves.

Jessica Tar lives in New Jersey with her husband Thomas Tar, their three daughters and two rescued dogs. She is a national spokesperson for the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance and was host of the 2015 IFHNOS (International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies) Opening Ceremony in New York City.

Why People with Type 2 Diabetes Should Start a Walking Program

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Today, more than 145 million adults in the United States include walking as part of a physically active lifestyle, and this staple exercise continues to grow in popularity. After all, walking can be done just about anywhere and, for most, is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.

Exercise is an especially beneficial and critical component of the treatment plans for the nearly 28 million Americans living with type 2 diabetes. However, maintaining a fitness routine can be challenging, and while people may recognize that they need to exercise regularly, they may not know where to start. That’s why AstraZeneca and the Diabetes Hands Foundation launched the Everyday Steps walking program, which features a walking guide with 12 motivational tips to help people with type 2 diabetes start a daily walking routine – and stick with it.

ColbergDr. Sheri Colberg, a professor of exercise science at Old Dominion University and adjunct professor of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, recognizes how walking can benefit people with type 2 diabetes. For the past two decades, Dr. Colberg’s research has been devoted to exercise and type 2 diabetes, and ultimately, the benefits physical activity has on overall health. She’s also the author of 10 health-related publications focused on type 2 diabetes. Here, she helps to address some questions about the barriers people with type 2 diabetes may face when it comes to sticking to an exercise routine and how to push past them.

What are the biggest concerns you hear when you talk to people with type 2 diabetes about exercise?

Dr. Colberg: I see exercise as being the biggest challenge for them. In addition to managing other components of their treatment plan, many adults with type 2 diabetes can find maintaining a fitness regimen challenging and are unsure of how to get started. They think it might be dangerous, or they might be intimidated. They need to find activities that work for them. The goal is to find an activity that will allow them to start slowly – and progress slowly – in order to avoid injury and loss of motivation. What’s important to remember is that becoming more active means that they have the opportunity to gain more energy and feel more invigorated.

But, still there are barriers. Do you think that people are often overwhelmed by the idea of starting an exercise routine?

Dr. Colberg: Of course. But, the important thing to remember is that even if people have missed their scheduled fitness activity, they can still find ways to be active during the day. For example, they can add more steps as they go about their daily activities. Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be structured. Exercise needs to be thought of as an active lifestyle, as opposed to a task or chore.

That’s a great point. Why is walking in particular a recommended form of physical activity for people with type 2 diabetes?

Dr. Colberg: Walking is a moderate and accessible activity and, most importantly, an excellent place to start in terms of beginning an exercise routine. Not only does walking help people with type 2 diabetes increase their fitness levels, but it also helps control blood glucose levels and improves the body’s ability to use insulin.

What are some quick tips to help people start and stay motivated with a walking routine?

Dr. Colberg: The key is to stop thinking of walking as a significant undertaking. Like the Everyday Steps guide suggests, using devices like a pedometer or smartphone app can help determine baseline fitness levels and track progress by adding steps as you go. Each time you walk, you can add a few more steps, so you are growing a healthy habit that becomes easier.

Besides walking, what other types of exercise can help people manage their type 2 diabetes?

Dr. Colberg: It’s beneficial to add resistance training to a fitness routine. As people age, it’s important to maintain as well as gain muscle mass. Resistance training can be a variety of things – using body weight, for example, planks, lunges, wall sits or resistance bands, hand weights and household items like full water bottles.

What is the most important message you’d like to share with people who have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes?

Dr. Colberg: It’s important for them to commit to making long-term changes. By making small lifestyle changes in diet and adding more steps here and there, these small efforts end up having a large impact on their ability to manage diabetes.

To learn more about the Everyday Steps walking program and find tips to help people with type 2 diabetes find the motivation to start and maintain a walking routine, check out the walking guide at www.everydaystepsguide.com. Before beginning a fitness program, it’s important to talk to a doctor for guidance.

Perspectives on Cardiovascular Disease: A Multi-Faceted Condition

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By Steven Zelenkofske, DO, Vice President, US Medical Affairs, Cardiovascular, AstraZeneca

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Steve Zelenkofske, DO, FACC, FACOI, FCPP

The 2016 American College of Cardiology (ACC) scientific sessions provides AstraZeneca an opportunity to interact with some of the top clinicians and researchers in the cardiology field, and discuss the difficult clinical questions that they face when treating patients.

With ACC coming up this weekend, I caught up with Roxana Mehran, MD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine to discuss the multi-faceted nature of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and how research and science is helping to evolve the way we view the causes and management of CVD.

Here’s a snapshot from our recent conversation:

Dr. Zelenkofske: CVD is a common condition that many people see as one singular condition, but it’s actually a chronic and complex disease state with diverse risk factors and sub-conditions.

What’s your perspective on this view of CVD and the varying levels of risk patients with different forms of the disease face?

Dr. Roxana Mehran

Roxana Mehran, MD, FACC, FACP, FCCP, FESC, FAHA, FSCAI

Dr. Mehran: When you think about CVD, particularly from a patient perspective, it’s a really complicated disease because it’s caused by a range of factors, like high cholesterol and hypertension – and is often a consequence of other co-morbidities like diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD). While there are several issues that make up CVD, the one unifying concern for healthcare professionals in treating it is managing risk – the risk of the disease worsening, the risk of having an event like a heart attack and the risk of recurring events that may take place over time.

Dr. Zelenkofske: You mention managing recurring events. This is an important point because when people think of a heart-related event, they think of it as something that happens once, which is not something we necessarily see in clinical practice.

Dr. Mehran: That’s definitely true. What many people may not realize is recurrent events like a heart attack often take place in patients who’ve already had one because of an underlying atherothrombotic disease. Recent research has shown that one in five patients who has had a heart attack will likely have another cardiovascular (CV) event, such as a heart attack, stroke or CV death in the subsequent three years, even if patients were event free after 12 months. These patients very often have other co-morbidities, such as high cholesterol, so preventing subsequent events, also referred to as secondary prevention, is an important health priority.

Dr. Zelenkofske: Can you share some of your insights on approaches that help patients prevent those recurrent events?

Dr. Mehran: Managing the recurrent risk of events is an ongoing journey that begins in the hospital and continues in the long term once a patient returns to ‘normal life’ back at home. In addition to lifestyle changes, patients should speak to their doctors about treatment approaches which have been shown to help reduce the likelihood of having an event post-heart attack.

And since we’re on the topic of managing risk factors, what’s your perspective on the evolving landscape for managing high cholesterol and high blood pressure?

Dr. Zelenkofske: AstraZeneca has a long-standing history in managing high cholesterol and blood pressure. We continue to follow the science of those medicines, to better understand their role in addressing unmet needs for patients to help them manage their conditions. In fact, at ACC this year, we continue to have data for our legacy CV medicines, including an independently studied late-breaker that evaluates whether cholesterol lowering medicine and a combination of blood pressuring lowering medicine used alone or together can reduce play a role in primary prevention for patients at average risk. As a science-driven organization, I am encouraged to see the clinical community continuing efforts to understand appropriate treatments in managing these conditions.

Dr. Mehran: Often, we know that conditions can be asymptomatic, so patients may not even know that they have them.

Dr. Zelenkofske: I agree. In the U.S., 71 million American adults have high LDL-C or bad cholesterol, yet only 1 out of every 3 adults with high LDL-C has their condition under control. Additionally, an estimated 80 million American adults age 20 years of age or older have high blood pressure.

Dr. Mehran: As you’ve talked about a holistic approach to CVD, what’s on the horizon for AstraZeneca as it relates to associated conditions such as CKD?

Dr. Zelenkofske: CKD is a global health problem that affects more than 10% of the world’s population. Individuals living with CKD are more likely to die of CVD than to develop kidney failure. Hyperkalaemia, a complication of CKD, affects more than 3 million patients suffering from CKD and chronic heart failure (CHF) in the U.S. alone. It can be a life threatening condition for which there are limited treatment options. Because we know that CVD is a well-known consequence of CKD, AstraZeneca draws on its deep understanding of cardiovascular treatment to help identify solutions in CKD as well. AstraZeneca recognizes there are unmet needs in hyperkalemia, among other complications from CKD. As a result, we continuously seek opportunities, both independently and in partnership, to investigate treatment options that can help reduce the burden of CKD.

 

Roxana Mehran, MD, FACC, FACP, FCCP, FESC, FAHA, FSCAI is Professor of Medicine and Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Research and Clinical Trials at the Zena and Michael A. Weiner Cardiovascular Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Her clinical focus includes Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS), angina, coronary artery disease and hyperlidemia among other therapeutic areas.

How We’re Making Medicine Personal

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At AstraZeneca, we know your health is personal and that’s why we put careful consideration into determining the value and ultimately the cost of our medicines. Many factors go into these decisions such as the benefits our medicines provide to your health and their potential to reduce healthcare spending on other costlier medical procedures. Just as importantly, these decisions enable us to invest in discovering and developing future medicines where new treatments are needed.

So how do we balance providing affordable access to our medicines while ensuring their cost reflects the value they deliver to the individual patient and broader healthcare system? We understand the weight of this question. That’s why we spend countless hours not just thinking about it, but finding new ways to help you and those you care about receive the best care possible for medical conditions we focus on. We do this by developing innovative medicines and offering programs that are uniquely tailored to you. We’re also always looking for ways to make your medicines more affordable and we collaborate with stakeholders across the healthcare system in pursuit of this goal.

Put differently – if you need our medicines, we want you to have affordable access to them and for them to make a valuable difference to your health. Here’s how we’re making medicine personal through innovation, support, and collaboration:

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Through innovative approaches, patient support programs, and key collaborations within the health and biopharmaceutical industry, we’re making medicine personal to improve your health, your care, and your future.

Our medicines represent an important part of America’s healthcare dollar and it’s our job to show how these treatments can bring value to you and the entire healthcare system. In future blog posts, we look forward to sharing more about the value our treatments provide and what we are doing to improve their accessibility and affordability.


Biopharmaceutical companies, such as AstraZeneca, lead the way in improving patient health and advancing medical innovation. Find out more here.

Dr. Phil’s 6 Rules to Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

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When faced with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, patients are often provided a plethora of information to absorb regarding their new health regimen, but are not necessarily given the tools to overcome psychological barriers that could impede their progress. Making lifestyle changes associated with managing type 2 diabetes, such as maintaining a healthy diet, making time for regular exercise, and committing to a treatment plan, often takes daily attention and the support of a team to succeed. With nearly 28 million Americans living with type 2 diabetes and another 86 million at risk for developing it, many are facing hurdles keeping them from committing to a plan and could use some guidance they can easily reference to stay on track with their health.

With this in mind, AstraZeneca’s ON IT Movement seeks to empower adults living with type 2 diabetes to make a personal commitment to live a healthier life. We are teaming up with Dr. Phil McGraw, host of the Dr. Phil show, who has been living with type 2 diabetes for more than 25 years. Dr. Phil is sharing his personal experience living with the condition and his professional experience as a former practicing clinical psychologist to inspire people to take action and more effectively manage the condition by working with their healthcare provider to create a treatment plan and stick to it.

As part of the movement, Dr. Phil is sharing his “6 Rules to Get ON IT” to help guide people with type 2 diabetes in overcoming psychological barriers so they can create a plan and stick to it:

  1. Move forward. Dismiss the sense of shame or personal failure you may feel as a result of your diagnosis, and any uninformed judgments around you. There are risk factors for type 2 diabetes that you can’t control like family history, personal history, age and more. Step up and move forward today!
  1. Get educated. Knowledge is power. Once you understand how the disease works, then you can make smart decisions and take control of your diabetes management. You’ll also be able to give others clear information to offset the stereotypes commonly associated with type 2 diabetes.
  1. Build a team. Gather a team of supporters to help you manage this disease. Your team can include your spouse, kids, doctor, friends, a trainer at your gym, or others who will help you along the way.
  1. Replace bad habits. As part of your plan, determine what aspects of your lifestyle need to change to support your overall health. One by one, build those changes into your routine so they become healthy habits.
  1. Make a plan. With help from your doctor and your treatment team, you can make a plan that will get you to your goals. When you take control, you will see what an impact you can have on your type 2 diabetes.
  1. Stick to it. Find the inspiration to stay on track. Be empowered by your plan. Nothing is easy at first, but if you stick to your plan, you’ll start to see results.

To learn more about the “6 Rules to Get ON IT” and Dr. Phil’s experience managing his type 2 diabetes, visit OnItMovement.com. Whether it’s learning how to change everyday habits or getting ideas on how to build the right support team, the ON IT Movement has the tools that can help people with type 2 diabetes create a treatment plan and stick to it.

Millions in Prescription Assistance Provided to Patients in 2015

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$617 million in 2015. $5.5 billion since 2010. Hundreds of thousands of patients helped each year.

These are the recent figures from AstraZeneca’s AZ&Me™ Prescription Savings Programs. In 2015, these programs provided more than $617 million in prescription savings to nearly 286,000 patients in the United States. Since 2010, that number has totaled $5.5 billion. But these numbers pale in comparison to the individual stories from patients who receive help paying for their medicines.

At AstraZeneca, we regularly receive letters from people who are kind enough to share with us what the AZ&Me programs mean to them and their families. Here are a few excerpts:

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We know that our medicines are only helpful to patients if they can access them.  It is stories like these that inspire us to make great medicines while providing support for patients who need it. That’s why we first launched our prescription savings programs more than 35 years ago.

The programs are designed to help qualifying people without prescription drug coverage, those enrolled in Medicare Part D, those who receive their medications through participating healthcare facilities and those who recently faced a financial challenge – such as loss of employment.

  • Individuals without Prescription Drug Coverage: AstraZeneca provides free medicines to qualifying individuals with an annual income at or below $35,000 and families of four with an annual household income at or below $70,000. Certain specialty and oncology medicines are provided free to qualifying individuals with an annual household income up to $100,000 regardless of family size.
  • Part D Beneficiaries: AstraZeneca provides free medicines to qualifying Medicare Part D beneficiaries with an annual income at or below $35,000 and couples with an annual household income at or below $48,000.
  • Healthcare Facilities: AstraZeneca provides free medicines to qualifying non-profit organizations, such as disproportionate share hospitals, community health centers and community free clinics. This program helps provide medicines to qualifying patients at the time and place of treatment.

Learn more about the AZ&Me Prescription Savings Programs – and whether you are eligible for assistance – here.

5 Ways Fit2Me Can Help You Make Lifestyle Changes in 2016

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By Hope Warshaw, RD, CDE, BC-ADM

HWarshaw_casual_high res-300 dpi_2014With the New Year upon us, you may be contemplating making lifestyle changes to live healthier and take better care of your type 2 diabetes. That’s terrific – however, as you choose the changes you want to make in the year ahead don’t try to change too much too quickly. That can be overwhelming and feel like a lot of work. Instead, focus on one step at a time to ensure the changes you make will stick long term.

As you know all too well, changing your eating habits and food choices is challenging, and so is trying to increase your physical activity. Add in taking care of type 2 diabetes and there’s even greater complexity. There’s a lot you have to manage – making sure you have the right types of foods on hand, preparing wholesome meals, fitting exercise into your daily routine, taking medications, and monitoring blood glucose levels just to name a few. And that’s all in addition to your regularly scheduled life! As a Diabetes Educator, the most important piece of advice I can give you is to take a slow and steady approach to making lifestyle changes. This approach typically wins out.

AstraZeneca’s Fit2Me™ diet and lifestyle support program may be just the tool to put into action to help you be successful with your New Year’s resolutions. Fit2Me is a free, online program that allows you to create a customized plan, personalized based on your likes and dislikes, focused on four key areas: food, activity, support team and treatment support. Check out these five ways Fit2Me can support your resolutions for this year and beyond:

  1. Take time to preplan. Fit2Me helps you take steps to do the all-important preplanning, which is key to making successful lifestyle changes. Put Fit2Me to work for you to help plan your meals and activities, all based on your own personal preferences. Once you create your weekly plan in the tool, Fit2Me will even give you options to make “trade-offs” between the activities you need to do based on the number of calories in the foods you select for the weekly plan.
  1. Experiment in the kitchen. Trying new foods can seem overwhelming, but with 10,000+ recipes you’re sure to find something you’ll love. Use Fit2Me to select the ingredients you like in order to find countless healthy meals you can make and look forward to eating. Eating more healthfully doesn’t mean you have to give up the types of foods you love – it’s all about eating more of this and less of that.
  1. Challenge yourself to new and fun activities. Starting a new routine can be hard, but when you discover new activities that you enjoy, you may even look forward to exercising. Soon enough being active will become a habit that you enjoy incorporating into your daily routine. The trick is finding something fun – let Fit2Me help you. Explore the 500+ activities to find the right ones for you.
  1. Build your support system. Build a team of family, friends and healthcare providers around you that can help support your efforts to solidify new healthy behaviors. Team up with a friend or family member looking to live a healthier lifestyle. Share your goals with them – the more you loop them in, the more opportunities they’ll have to encourage you. For additional support work with one of the Fit2Me digital coaches to help keep you on track and celebrate your successes along the way.
  1. Track to stay focused. Working toward health goals while balancing the demands of type 2 diabetes can be challenging. To help you stay focused and motivated in the year ahead, use Fit2Me for tracking. It allows you to track your personal health goals, the results of your tests and checks, like your A1C, and to set reminders of your medical appointments – all in one place.

Step by step, one by one, give these five tips a try and let Fit2Me help you along the way. No matter what your specific goals are for the New Year, the key to success is to start off with small and steady changes. Strive to create habits around choosing healthier foods, eating smaller portions of less healthy foods and larger portions of healthier foods (yes, fruit and vegetables!). Plus, be more active. Over time – and with repeated practice – your new, healthier behaviors will become automatic. You’ll reach a point where making the healthier choice WILL be the easier choice.

About Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE

Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, is a dietitian, diabetes educator and freelance writer based in Northern Virginia. Warshaw is the author of numerous books published by American Diabetes Association including Diabetes Meal Planning Made Easy and Eat Out Eat Well – The Guide to Eating Healthy in Any Restaurant.

New Resource Available to Help Fight the Flu

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Despite the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations that every eligible individual 6 months and older gets a seasonal flu vaccine, only about 42.6 percent of Americans are vaccinated each year. Vaccination rates vary by age group and among ethnicities and Hispanic adults have the lowest rate of vaccination at 33.1 percent. While Hispanic children have a relatively high vaccination rate (66 percent), people of all ages are at risk for flu-related illness, so vaccination shouldn’t be limited to the young. Furthermore, when most of the population is vaccinated, it limits the spread of disease and indirectly protects unimmunized individuals, including those who cannot get vaccinated. 

Book Cover SpanishIn honor of National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) 2015, a national observance established by the CDC to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination throughout the duration of the season, AstraZeneca is taking the opportunity to remind families of the importance of annual vaccination.

Building upon our existing resources on our “A Family’s Guide to Flu Season” Facebook page, we’re launching “Guía para la familia sobre la temporada de gripe,” a resource for members of the Hispanic community, within which flu vaccination rates are significantly lower than the general population. The booklet provides tips to help keep families and communities flu-free this season, including:

  • Annual vaccination is the first and most important step. Find a location that offers the flu vaccine in your area by visiting: http://flushot.healthmap.org
  • Be sure to wash your hands with clean water and soap for 20 seconds—try singing the Happy Birthday song twice
  • Use a tissue to catch your cough or sneeze and throw it away immediately. Be sure to wash your hands following

Seasonal influenza, commonly called “flu,” is a respiratory virus that infects the throat, lungs and nose. Influenza can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases, can even lead to problems including hospitalization or death. Some common symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. On average each year in the US, the flu results in more than 200,000 hospitalizations from flu complications, $10.4 billion in direct medical costs and a total of 44 million days of lost productivity.

Experts believe that flu viruses are spread by droplets released when people with the flu virus sneeze, cough or talk. Even healthy adults can infect others beginning one day before symptoms begin and up to seven days after becoming sick. So while frequent handwashing and avoiding sick people are helpful, the CDC maintains that an annual flu vaccination is the first and most important step in preventing the flu virus.

Many Americans have the misperception that flu vaccinations are only available or beneficial prior to the start of flu season, and thus flu vaccination activity dramatically declines after the end of November. Although flu season is already underway, peak flu activity occurs in January and February, and thus, the CDC encourages vaccination any time during flu season, even in the late winter months.

To learn more about flu prevention, tips and tricks, visit www.Facebook.com/AFamilysGuidetoFluSeason. Download a copy of the English or Spanish  booklet for ways to help keep you and your family flu-free. To learn more about how you can participate in NIVW, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/nivw/activities.htm.

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