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Lupul

Lupus: When Your Body Attacks Itself

The body’s immune system is designed to protect the body from infection and other diseases. Sometimes, in rare cases, the immune system is the body’s worst enemy. It’s called lupus.

In May — Lupus Awareness Month — the lupus community works to raise awareness of this chronic condition which affects about 1.5 million Americans. Nearly 90% of those diagnosed are women and the majority of those are African American.

It can be a painful but rarely is it fatal. People with lupus can live a normal lifespan with proper medical care, but so far, there is no cure, it is hard to diagnose, and there is little understanding of its cause.

Lowdown on Lupus

Lupus is a disorder that affects a person’s immune system. It is like rheumatoid arthritis in that way. It affects the joints, but it also affects blood cells, the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and the skin.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type of lupus and affects many parts of the body. Other types of lupus include:

  • Cutaneous lupus Causes a rash or lesions when exposed to sunlight
  • Drug-induced lupus — Caused by an overreaction to certain medicines but stops when medication is discontinued
  • Neonatal lupus — Inherited by a mother with SLE and usually resolves within six months. It can lead to a heart block requiring a pacemaker.

Lupus Symptoms

Lupus affects everyone differently depending on which body systems are attacked. The symptoms can come on suddenly or develop slowly.

Symptoms are mild for most people with lupus, but they can have “flares” where symptoms get worse for a while.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Dry eyes
  • Facial rash covering the nose and cheeks
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Memory loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin lesions that get worse with sunlight
Girl With Headaches

Complications

While lupus is rarely deadly, fatality has much to do with the parts of the body affected.
 

  • KidneysLupus in the kidneys can cause serious damage resulting in kidney failure. It is the leading cause of death in lupus patients.
  • Brain and nervous systemThis can lead to dizziness, headaches, behavior changes, seizures, or strokes.
  • Blood and blood vesselsComplications could include anemia and a greater risk of bleeding or blood clots.
  • Lungs Breathing becomes difficult if the chest cavity lining swells. It can also lead to bleeding into the lungs and pneumonia.
  • Heart Cardiovascular disease and heart attacks become more likely with inflammation of the heart muscles or arteries.

Other complications include:
 

  • Infection from the disease and treatments which sometimes weaken the immune system.
  • Cancer risk is increased, though the risk is small.
  • Dead bone tissue which happens when the blood supply to bone declines.
  • Miscarriage potential increases for pregnant women who also face the prospect of high blood pressure.
Sr Getting his Treatment

Treatments

People with lupus can expect a normal lifespan if the condition does not affect their organs. It is vital they follow the instructions of their physician. This includes taking their medications as prescribed. They must also get help for any unexpected side effects from their medication.

Find Help at AltaMed

Talk to your doctor sooner, rather than later, if you have any of the symptoms mentioned in this blog. Your doctor can suggest treatments to help you cope with the condition. If you don’t already have a doctor, find your nearest AltaMed location and give them a call.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

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Woman getting vaccinated

Here’s the Latest Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters

The FDA has authorized third doses, booster shots, and second booster shots to help you and your family stay protected against the coronavirus. These shots are recommended to maximize protection against the virus and its variants. Now, you may be wondering what is the difference between a third dose, a booster shot, and a second booster shot?

What is a booster shot and who can get it?

If you are fully vaccinated and not immunocompromised, you may eligible for a booster shot. Fully vaccinated is defined as someone who has already received two doses of the Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. For the Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine, a booster shot is different dosage than a third dose.

For those who received the Pfizer (Comirnaty) or the Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine, the following groups are eligible for a booster shot at five months or more after completing their initial series:
 

  • 12 years and over for Pfizer (Comirnaty) and 18 and over for Moderna (Spikevax)

For those who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, anyone who is 18 and older and who was vaccinated two or more months ago, can receive a booster shot.

Booster shots are most important for people that are 65 and over, those with immune compromising conditions and those that are overweight or have chronic health conditions as these people can suffer more serious COVID-19 disease if they have not gotten all their recommended vaccines including their booster shots.

What is a second booster shot and who can get it?

The CDC now recommends a second booster shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 vaccines for the following groups:
 

  • Individuals aged 50 or older
  • Individuals aged 12 and over with moderate to severe immune comprise

The second booster will be available to eligible individuals beginning four months after their first booster. Public Health sites will administer second booster shots to those eligible starting Wednesday, March 30. More information is available here.

What is a third dose and who can get it?

If you received either the Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine and are immunocompromised, you need a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine following your initial vaccine series. The third dose is to help people get the same level of protection (or immunity) as people who are not immunocompromised. After you get the third dose, you can get a booster when you are eligible.
 

  • You must have had the first two doses of the Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine
  • It has been 28 days since your last COVID-19 vaccine
  • You have one of the following conditions:
    • History of solid organ transplant
    • History of bone marrow or stem cell transplant
    • Current cancer or on chemotherapy
    • Untreated or uncontrolled HIV
    • Chronic steroid use for one month or more
    • Use of immune modulating therapies such as Rituximab
    • Kidney disease requiring dialysis
    • Presence of cirrhosis
    • Inherited or acquired immune deficiency syndromes (AIDS)
Covid 19 Vaccines

Stop the spread

Getting vaccinated remains the most important and effective step to ending the coronavirus pandemic. AltaMed has free vaccine events. You can also contact our vaccine hotline at (888) 909-5232 to schedule your booster COVID-19 shot.

In the meantime, regardless of your vaccination status:
 

  • You need to follow local and state safety guidelines.
  • Wear a face mask when indoors or in crowds to protect yourself and others.
  • Maintain hand hygiene — use hand sanitizer to clean hands frequently, and wash hands for 20 seconds at a time.
  • Wipe down any surfaces you touch.
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Test Diabetes

Stop Diabetes Before It Ever Starts

Chances are, you may know someone living with diabetes. The latest National Diabetes Statistics Report, published by the CDC, revealed that 37.3 million Americans, or 11% of the population, have been diagnosed with the disease. Perhaps even more shocking, an estimated 96 million U.S. adults (38%) are living with prediabetes. 

As of 2019, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 280,000 lives lost. Total medical costs and costs from lost productivity, unemployment, and premature mortality totaled $327 billion. 

Yet, controlling it is relatively easy. Type 2 diabetes — the most common form of diabetes — is often the result of the poor choices we make. Type 1 diabetes — the body’s inability to make insulin — is genetic. In this blog, we will focus on the diabetes we can control. 

Person over a Scale

Facts and Figures

More than 37 million people, or 11.3% of the U.S. population, have diabetes. More than 28.5 million of those are adults. Another 200,000 are adolescents and children. More than 8.5 million, or 23% of adults with diabetes, are undiagnosed. 

People with elevated blood sugar, but not high enough to have diabetes, have prediabetes. It affects 96 million people over the age of 18, or 38% of the adult population in the U.S. More than 26 million people over the age of 65, or 48.8% of that population, have prediabetes. 

Anywhere from 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop diabetes in as little as five years if they don’t get active or drop some weight. Most people with type 2 diabetes had prediabetes first. 

Some people will have prediabetes for years but never have any clear symptoms until it turns into type 2 diabetes. Get your blood sugar tested if you have any of these risk factors: 
 

  • Overweight 

  • High blood pressure 

  • Have a low level of “good” cholesterol 

  • 45 years old or older 

  • Have a history of heart disease or stroke 

  • Are depressed 

  • Smoke 

  • Parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes 

  • Physically active less than three times a week 

  • Had gestational diabetes while pregnant 

  • Gave birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds 

  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome which makes it difficult to get pregnant 

Race and ethnicity can also be a factor with African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans at higher risk. 

Family Playing at the Beach

How to Stop Diabetes 

Too many people don’t take diabetes seriously. Yet, two out of three people with diabetes will die from a heart attack or stroke. 

You don’t have to succumb to a diabetes diagnosis, however. Just a few steps will help put you on a path that could keep you out of diabetes’ clutches. 
 

  • Drop the extra weight. You don’t need to do anything dramatic. Your doctor can help you set realistic goals of losing a pound or two a week with changes to your diet. The American Diabetes Association recommends people with prediabetes lose 7% to 10% of body weight to stop the onset of diabetes. 

  • Get active. Being active helps you lose weight. It will help lower your blood sugar. It can boost your sensitivity to insulin which helps control blood sugar. Try for 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day, like brisk walking, biking, or swimming. Also, don’t sit for extended periods of time. 

  • Eat fiber-rich foods. They fill you up, which keeps you from snacking and promotes weight loss. It also slows your body’s ability to absorb sugar and fat. Eat fruits and vegetables like apples, tomatoes, oranges, bananas, and peppers. Eat leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower. Add beans, chickpeas, and lentils to your diet. Whole grains like whole-wheat pasta and bread, whole-grain rice, quinoa, and whole oats are beneficial. 

  • Eat healthy fats. These unsaturated fats promote good heart health. 

  • Eat healthy fats. These unsaturated fats promote good heart health. 
     

    • Canola, cottonseed, olive, and sunflower oil 

    • Almonds, flaxseed, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds

    • Fatty fish like cod, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna;

    Limit dairy to low-fat and replace beef with lean chicken and pork. 

  • Avoid fad diets. You need to make lasting choices. Fad diets may help you drop weight, but you need to change your eating habits not just now, but for the future. Think about dividing your plate so you have one half covered with fruits and non-starchy vegetables, one fourth covered in whole grains, and one fourth with protein. 

We're Here to Help

AltaMed understands that lifestyle changes can be difficult. We help support you with several programs to keep you fit and help you take control of your diabetes or keep you from ever getting it. 
 

  • STOMP — Family Health and Fitness Program — STOMP is Solutions & Treatment to Obesity Management and Prevention. This fun, interactive childhood healthy weight program helps kids and their families develop healthy habits around nutrition, fitness, stress management, and more – to help them grow healthy for life. STOMP is a full year of hands-on support that includes visits with doctors, nutritionists, fitness instructors, and other health professionals. It’s available for free for qualifying AltaMed members and their families. Locations include Anaheim (714) 678-2143, Boyle Heights (323) 307-0479, El Monte (626) 582-1428, Santa Ana (714) 919-0280, and Huntington Beach (714) 375-2261

  • Diabetes Prevention Program — This year-long program helps you set goals and overcome challenges with support from a trained wellness coach and a registered dietician. It is available at our Los Angeles and Orange County locations to AltaMed patients over the age of 17. Call (323) 558-7606 for more information or email HealthEducation@altamed.org

  • Diabetes Management Program — This six-class educational program is available to diabetes patients 18 and older. Participants work with a Health Educator to develop practical skills to help manage their diabetes, prevent complications, and improve quality of life.

  • Diabetes Group Visits — Learning how to manage your type 2 diabetes successfully can help you lead a long and normal life. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been diagnosed recently or had it for a while. The program uses evidence-based principles and focuses on nutrition, activity, medication compliance, and self-care. The goal is to help participants lower their HbA1c scores and keep them in the healthy range. You will meet with a team of professionals, including a doctor and pharmacist, for six weeks. It’s a friendly and welcoming environment where you can get to know others with diabetes and share your success. It is available at all Los Angeles and Orange County locations to AltaMed patients over 18 years old. Call (323) 558-7606 for more information. 

  • Community Health Specialist Support — For patients with diabetes who are looking for additional help, AltaMed Community Health Specialists (CHS) can help provide medication and health appointment coordination, as well as assist with securing financial resources. AltaMed CHS will work with you and your medical team to achieve your individual health goals and improve overall care. 

  • Nutrition Counseling — A balanced diet is essential for people with diabetes. Work with an AltaMed Registered Dietitian (RD) to develop personalized meal plans that will create better eating habits and a healthier lifestyle. This service is open to patients of all ages.

Lupus: When Your Body Attacks Itself