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Health Check-up

The Consortium for Southeast Hypertension Control is sponsoring a mini health fair from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 25 at the New Orleans Centre (1400 Poydras St.) in conjunction with the group's annual meeting at the Hotel Monteleone Aug. 26-28.

The health fair will include free blood pressure, cholesterol and blood-glucose screenings as well as evaluations for risk factors related to heart disease and diabetes. Other health-related information also will be available, and visitors are invited to sit in on roundtable discussions with doctors concerning cardiovascular disease in different groups, including African Americans, women, children and Hispanics.

Save Your Own Skin

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center's Department of Dermatology will conduct free skin-cancer screenings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 14 at Lakeside Shopping Center (3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie) during the mall's sixth annual Kid's Day.

Health professionals will examine exposed areas of skin for signs of actinic keratosis, the most common form of skin cancer, which affects as many as 10 million Americans. They also will offer visitors information about skin cancer and prevention.

Caring for Caregivers

Alzheimer's Services of the Crescent City is sponsoring a free luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 24 at the West Jefferson Behavioral Center (229 Bellemeade Blvd., Gretna) for people who take care of patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. Daphne Glindmeyer of West Jefferson Medical Center will discuss "First Reactions to an Alzheimer's Disease Diagnosis and the Importance of Taking Care of Oneself as a Caregiver." Seating is limited. For reservations, call 340-8656 or email info@alzheimerservicescc.com.


For the Heart

Louisiana Heart Hospital (64030 Hwy. 434, Lacombe, 985-690-7524) recently opened a new medical office building on the hospital grounds to house the almost two dozen physicians who practice at the facility.

The medical office building gives Northshore residents a convenient location where they can find a doctor that specializes in cardiovascular medicine, and it allows physicians to be closer to patients who are in the hospital.

Health Info Made Easy

The New Orleans Public Library and REACH 2010: At the Heart of New Orleans are working together to provide easy access to health information for African Americans in the community through a $5,000 Express Consumer Health Outreach grant.

The project, Medline Plus -- Quality Online Health Information for the Community, teaches people to use electronic methods to find health information. The next class is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Aug. 21 in the Technology Center at the main library (219 Loyola Ave.). Another class will be held at the same location on Nov. 13. Reservations are required. Call 596-2580.

It's Back

The Health Club by Hilton, on the sixth floor of the Hilton Riverside (1 Poydras St., 566-3742), has reopened after major renovations that added state-of-the-art exercise equipment, a full cardio theater, a virtual golf studio and more.

Treadmills in the cardio theater now have individual flat-screen television sets, and climbers are calibrated for individual users' intensity levels. The club also offers several classes, including spinning, yoga, aerobics and Pilates; and there are volleyball, basketball and tennis courts available in addition to elliptical machines and free weights. Special sessions with a tennis pro, personal trainer or massage therapist are available

Health Care in Avondale

Jefferson Community Health Care Center Inc. (4028 Hwy. 90, Avondale, 436-2223) opened recently, offering full-service primary health services to people in the Avondale area. The clinic offers primary and preventative health care, disease management, gynecological exams, medication management, on-site laboratory services, pediatric care, immunizations for adults and children, vision and hearing screenings, podiatry services, education, pre-employment physicals, substance abuse counseling and more. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Get Ready for School

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals' (DHH) Shots for Tots program will provide immunizations free of charge and without an appointment at selected sites in Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes Thursday through Saturday (Aug. 5-7). In addition to mobile units from DHH's Office of Public Health, which will give children immunizations and check anyone's blood pressure on request, local community partners, including city health clinics, EXCELth Inc., family practice clinics and others, also will offer free vaccinations, although the hours may vary by practice. For information about when and where the immunizations will be available, call 599-0100 (Orleans), 349-8802 (Marrero), 838-5100 (Metairie), or 278-7410 (Chalmette).

Funding Help

Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has established an online database at www.dhh.state.la.us/pcrh that details all health-related funding opportunities available through state, federal and private agencies.

The purpose of the clearinghouse is to provide information about funding opportunities to communities seeking money for projects that will improve health care for Louisiana residents. In addition, DHH's Bureau of Primary Care and Rural Health will offer workshops and on-site technical assistance for grant applications and health-related projects. For more information, contact Beth Millet at (225) 342-1889 or email her at bmillet@dhh.la.gov.

Vital Organs

Tulane University researchers are now enrolling patients who have been diagnosed with early signs of kidney disease to participate in a clinical study to help doctors learn more about the causes of the condition and how it affects the heart. The Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study, which will be conducted at several medical institutions across the country and will include about 500 patients in New Orleans, is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

No experimental treatments or drugs will be used in the study, which will last for several years. The purpose is to learn more about the causes and course of kidney disease so doctors can better understand how to prevent and manage it. Participants will answer questions about their medical history, have blood pressure measured and receive EKGs and other tests that will be repeated over the course of the study.

For more information, contact Tamara Pearson at 988-4392 or email tpearson@tulane.edu.

Lung Cancer Vaccine

Tulane Cancer Center (TCC) is now enrolling patients in a clinical trial that seeks to determine whether the immune system of a patient with a certain type of lung cancer can be stimulated to attack the tumor.

TCC was the first site in the country to offer the Southwest Oncology Group clinical trial for a vaccine to fight bronchoalveolar carcinoma (BAC). Researchers expect about 20 sites to enroll at least 100 patients to test the GVAX vaccine, which is developed specifically for each patient using genetically modified cells from their own tumor.

Patients who enroll will undergo surgery to remove a small sample of tissue from their tumor. Researchers then will modify the tumor cells and develop a vaccine, which will be injected under the patient's skin every two weeks for 10 weeks.

Tulane hematologist-oncologist Raja Mudad, a lead investigator in the national study, says researchers hope the vaccine will prompt patients' immune systems to attack their tumors. The study is enrolling patients with advanced BAC who have received chemotherapy and other treatments as well as those who have received no treatment for their cancer. BAC, which occurs more commonly in women, non-smokers and younger patients, generally is less responsive to chemotherapy than other cancers. Those with advanced stages of the disease survive for an average of only 15 months.

For more information, call TCC at 988-6121.

Exiling West Nile

Doctors at Tulane and Louisiana State University health sciences centers will test an experimental treatment for West Nile Virus (WNV) in patients in which the infection threatens to cause encephalitis, or swelling of the brain.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is sponsoring clinical trials in about 60 sites throughout the United States and Canada to test the safety and effectiveness of a product that contains antibodies to the virus.

The blood plasma-derived substance, called Omr-IgG-amTM, contains WNV antibodies and will be given intravenously to patients with WNV infection. The product is made by a company in Israel, where the WNV has been active for years and where many blood donors already have antibodies to the virus.

In Louisiana, the clinical trials will be conducted by Dr. Rodrigo Hasbun of Tulane University Health Sciences Center and Dr. Robert Penn of LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. Enrollment is limited to patients already hospitalized with the disease and is based on a doctor's referral.

Straightening Out Sickle Cell

Sickle Cell patients at least 2 years old who regularly receive blood transfusions to battle iron overload may be eligible for a new national study of a medication to treat the condition at Tulane University.

The medication, ICL670, bonds to the extra iron in the blood and helps the body excrete it. Iron overload sometimes results after blood transfusions introduce new red blood cells into the bloodstream that cause an increase in total body iron. Too much iron in the body can be toxic and even deadly, and can damage the heart, liver or pancreas and lead to serious complications such as congestive heart failure, cirrhosis or diabetes.

Participants in the clinical trial will be required to travel to California three times for a liver-iron content evaluation at the Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland; the study's sponsors will fund those trips. For more information call 588-5800.

click to enlarge Blood pressure and other free screenings are available at a health fair at the New Orleans Centre Aug. 25.
  • Blood pressure and other free screenings are available at a health fair at the New Orleans Centre Aug. 25.
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