Help Prevent Today’s WV Kids From Becoming Tomorrow’s Addicted Tobacco Users!

The following is an alert made with the assistance from the American Heart Association – PLEASE TAKE ACTION!

West Virginia House Bill 4191 Before House Health Committee TOMORROW and Your Message Can Make the Difference! 

How can we prevent 21,100 WV kids from smoking, reduce the number of pregnant smokers (the highest in the nation at nearly 30%), save 11,800 residents from premature, smoking-related deaths and save more than $760 million in long-term tobacco-related healthcare costs? With WV House Bill 4191, before the House Health Committee tomorrow!

By increasing West Virginia’s low 55 cents per pack cigarette tax, one of the lowest in the nation and well below the national average, we can make a real difference in the health of our citizens. We know that for every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes, we see about a 4% decrease in adult smoking rates and a 7% reduction in youth smoking rates. 

A $1 increase in West Virginia’s cigarette tax, along with an increase in the tax on other tobacco products like little cigars and chewing tobacco, would raise more than

$148 million in new annual revenue for the state while significantly reducing use rates, particularly among our price-sensitive youth. 

Don’t let this opportunity to save lives in WV pass us by! House Bill 4191 is before the House Health Committee tomorrow and would increase WV’s tobacco tax to a level that would result in much-needed revenue AND far fewer tobacco users–a win-win for WV! With one click you can urge your lawmakers to support House Bill 4191 today!

Click here to take action NOW –


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Proper Asthma Management Webinar – Nov. 12, 2013

Proper Asthma Management in Schools Webinar on Nov. 12, 2013

The West Virginia School Health TA Center has announced a webinar on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 2:30 PM during which participants will learn about the diagnosis, management, and treatment of children with asthma. The presentation by Cynthia Keely, Manager of the WVDHHR’s Asthma and Education Prevention Program, will demonstrate the devices used to treat and manage the disease, and provide helpful resources.

For additional information or to register, please click HERE.


Cynthia Keely, BA, RRT, LRTR

West Virginia Asthma Education and Prevention Program Manager

Division of Health Promotion & Chronic Disease

WV Bureau for Public Health

Advisory Chair – Respiratory Therapy Program Carver/Bridgemont College

Secretary – WV Society for Respiratory Care

350 Capitol St., Room 514

Charleston, WV 25301

P: (304) 356-4191

F: (304) 558-1553




Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized—10-08-2013.html?soid=1110175474106&aid=hXsjOQqFRyw—10-08-2013.html?soid=1110175474106&aid=hXsjOQqFRyw.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Daily HealthBeat Tip Update

U.S. Health & Human Services Update (June 28, 2013)

Smokeless and Sickness

According to a recent study, some middle and high school students are setting themselves up for an aggressive tobacco-related cancer without smoking. The analysis of 2011 national survey data found over 5 percent of those young people are using smokeless tobacco, such as snuff, chew and dipping tobacco – about the same as it was in 2000.

Gregory Connolly of the Harvard School of Public Health:

“We’re not seeing a decline in smokeless use, while we are seeing a decline in cigarette smoking among adolescents. As clinicians, we have to be concerned that these children are at risk of mouth cancer.”

He notes that half of people diagnosed with oral cancer are dead within five years.

The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Learn more at   Daily HealthBeat Tip Update.

According to the National Cancer Institute on Smokeless Tobacco and Cancer

  • Are there harmful chemicals in smokeless tobacco?

    Yes. There is no safe form of tobacco. At least 28 chemicals in smokeless tobacco have been found to cause cancer (1). The most harmful chemicals in smokeless tobacco are tobacco-specific nitrosamines, which are formed during the growing, curing, fermenting, and aging of tobacco. The level of tobacco-specific nitrosamines varies by product. Scientists have found that the nitrosamine level is directly related to the risk of cancer.

    In addition to a variety of nitrosamines, other cancer-causing substances in smokeless tobacco include polonium–210 (a radioactive element found in tobacco fertilizer) and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (also known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) (1).

  • Does smokeless tobacco cause cancer?

    Yes. Smokeless tobacco causes oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer (1).

  • Does smokeless tobacco cause other diseases?

  • Yes. Using smokeless tobacco may also cause heart disease, gum disease, and oral lesions other than cancer, such as leukoplakia (precancerous white patches in the mouth) (1).


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Self Management – What does it mean for you?

Self-management is what people do every day: they decide what to eat, whether to exercise, if and when they will monitor their health or take medications. In fact, everyone self-manages, the question is whether or not people make decisions that improve their health by changing their behaviors and habits, which will improve or worsen their health now and in the future. People who are motivated to make daily decisions and choose actions favoring healthy behaviors are sometimes called “good self-managers.”

Why is self-management so important? What is different?
The health of a person or patient relies heavily on that person. Self-management is inevitable because a person only sees their health care provider (physician) for one check-up a year – about 15 minute visit and the rest of the time they are “self-managing” their own health and illnesses. The physician’s role in self-management is to be a partner with the patient. The physician should be the expert about diseases, and the patient is the expert in their own life and how they live. However, they must both communicate freely to each other and in ways that both understand. If the physician doesn’t know the patient can’t afford or find their inhaler medication – then they can’t help them. Honesty goes a long way in this process.

What is self-management support?
Self-management support is what physicians and other health caregivers do to help and encourage patients to become good self-managers. In simplistic terms, it is providing the education and resources for patients’ to improve their skills and confidence in managing their health problems. This means individuals (patients) should be seeing their physician each year for a regular “well” check-up, setting goals on improving their health, and working with their physicians on solving problems – such as getting the medications they need as well as education and seeing a specialist when needed. Individual patients should be getting the information they need and understand – whether the physician or other health provider uses teach back methods – especially in making sure the patient knows how to use their inhaler properly, providing low-literacy printed information – such as an easy to read Asthma Action Plan for the family, or web-based training, etc.

How can You improve self-management?

Start by talking to your doctor today. Be honest about your health issues – if they don’t know its broken, how can they fix it? Of course, physicians are not miracle workers and can be limited by where they are located for treatment and specialists for specific disease care, however, you as a patient need to voice concern and ask questions. If you have trouble speaking with your physician, taking notes, and remmbering everything a doctor tells you – you as a patient should consider having a family member or close friend go to doctor appointments with you – to take notes for you and to be a support person. We call these individuals “health advocates” because they are your “cheerleaders” and support you.

We know that life is a balancing act – but there are ways to make it easier! Work with your physician(s), as they should be WORKING for you. Remember you need to do your part too. Be honest – if you stopped taking a prescribed medication due to them making you feel worse, then tell you doctor and also talk to the pharmacist. They should be able to offer suggestions on a different type of medication that may work better for you. Thankfully, there are new options being made every day.

Medicine and the management of disease are many times not an EXACT science. Sometimes you may have to try a few different medications or  treatment to get a good or better result because the treatment that worked for one person may not work for another.

The West Virginia Asthma Education and Prevention Program works with physicians and other health care providers (caregivers) in the hope of improving Patient Self-Management. Many good resources and educational material and links can be found on our website at

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“Physicians of Prevention”

On Tuesday, April 10th, I had the opportunity to attend the West Virginia School Based Health Assembly Annual Meeting at Coonskin Park. It was a wonderful meeting bringing together statewide healthcare advocates and partners to discuss the status and success of school-based health centers. For those that may not be familiar, the West Virginia School-Based Health Assembly (WVSBHA) aims to advance comprehensive health care in school settings through responsive policies, practices, and partnerships. The assembly serves 80 schools in 28 counties at 67 school-based health clinics. The WVAC is a proud partner of the WVSBHA – working together to promote the health and wellness of children of all ages and backgrounds.

At this meeting I heard from several state supporters regarding stories of success and challenges that have been overcome. One presenter, however, stood out to me when she made one simple statement. Her name was Dr. Jorea Marple and she is the State Superintendent of Schools for the West Virginia Department of Education and the simple words that she said were, “I think it is now time that we all are physicians of prevention and that wellness of our children becomes a moral imperative for our community.”

What a wonderful thought – that we are all “physicians of prevention”. It does not matter what your educational background is or with what company, school, non-profit, etc. that you work for – now is the time that we all must become physicians. We must become physicians of prevention and we must work together to prevent childhood diseases. Dr. Marple also stated in her address that in a recent article published by the Gazette that they determined that 30% of our fifth graders are obese and that 25% suffer from high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These are startling numbers for children that should have bright futures but are now facing serious health consequences.

So what does this mean for the WVAC? Well, it means that we must all put on our white lab coats and start working on prevention. As a Coalition, we can begin working as physicians of prevention for these children. While she did not provide any specific statistics on children with asthma in West Virginia, we already know the following statistics for our children:

  • Approximately 13% or 47,000 West Virginians under the age of 18 have at some point been diagnosed with asthma by a health care professional.
  • It was estimated that in 2009, 8.5% or 32,000 West Virginia children had asthma.
  • Approximately 60% of children under the age of 18 and 43% of public high school students with asthma had an asthma attack in the past 12 months.
  • Twenty percent of public high school students with asthma missed school due to asthma during the 2008-2009 school year.
  • Children under the age of 15 accounted for 22% of asthma hospitalizations in 2008 (WV-AEPP Fact Sheet).

So, how can we be a physician of prevention for a disease that attacks the airways? There are many things that we can do to help, and here are a few:

  • Encourage those with asthma to make frequent visits to the doctor concerning this condition – this is the best way to begin a prevention plan to start breathing easier.
  • Encourage asthma action plans! Everyone with asthma should have a plan – monitoring asthma is the best way to minimize asthma episodes and to help the patient be in control of his or her asthma.
  • Know the asthma triggers. Study up on the things that can trigger an episode – strong smells, grass, pollen, etc. Once the patient understands the triggers, management can become much easier.
  • Do you know your body and your breathing patterns? Encourage the individual with asthma to record breathing patterns around the time of an asthma episode. Once these patterns are tracked a better plan of action can be implemented to prevent the episode.
  • Medicine is key! Asthma medications should never be skipped or missed in order to help clear the airways. Continued use of a quick-relief inhaler is not normal – this means that the asthma is not under control and that a long-term medication might be more sufficient. (Mayo Clinic, 2012).

So, these are some great tips to get you started in becoming a physician of prevention with those that you know that have asthma, or even with those that you do not know. Encourage your child’s school to look at indoor air quality standards (regardless of whether your child has asthma or not), find some credible articles or information to deliver to the neighbor child that struggles with his or her breathing in the spring, etc. Take steps to prevent someone from suffering through an asthma episode. There is no better time to become a physician of prevention than now.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Exercise-Induced Asthma

This weekend I am venturing to Charleston, South Carolina to participate in my first-ever 10k race. I will be running in one of the largest 10k races on the east coast, with over 40,000 participants. As a former college athlete, I have experienced my bouts of exercise-induced asthma – having received my first rescue inhaler when I was in high school. This came in handy over the years as I experienced asthma episodes during weather changes and other environmental changes as a runner.

I just received my copy of Allergic Living (Spring 2012), which includes a section called “Ask the Allergy & Asthma Expert” with Dr. Clifford Bassett. In this section a reader asked the following question regarding exercise-induced asthma, and I thought that Dr. Bassett’s response was worth sharing as I prepare for my weekend race.

Q: “I’m a marathon runner in my 40s. I’ve been diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma. What can you tell me about it?”

A: “Exercise-induced asthma is a narrowing of the airways in the lungs that is provoked by exercise. The most common complaints include cough and shortness of breath after six to 15 minutes of exercise.

The good news is that even those with asthma may compete at an Olympic level. In the past several Olympic Games, one in 10 American athletes had exercise-induced asthma. In my own practice, among elite and competitive athletes, having the endurance to exercise comfortably is doable with proper planning, training, and, of course, common sense.

It is essential to have your asthma (and often underlying allergies) under good control by taking the appropriate medications and to be under the supervision of an asthma specialist. In some cases, brief periods of rest may be necessary, as well as taking prescribed rescue medication prior to running. A proper warm-up with light exercise and stretching is essential, and cool down activities after exercise are often helpful.” – Dr. Clifford Bassett (Allergic Living, Spring 2012)

This is great advice as I prepare for my 10k, and I hope that it will be equally helpful for anyone that has exercise-induced asthma. I think the key message in his answer is, “having the endurance to exercise comfortably is doable with proper planning, training, and, of course, common sense.” It is important to be prepared with your medications, to know that an episode could present itself, and to know the proper steps to prevent an asthma attack.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized