ACHIEVA and HealthMeet

 Your Health Matters

Volume 3 Issue 6                                                                                       June 2014 Edition




In This Issue
ASD More Prone to Disease
Barriers to Dental Care
More Aerobic Physical Activity
Healthy People 2020
Health Literacy
Doctors' Ignorance
HealthMeet Calendar of Events

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Study Finds Adults with Autism
More Prone to Chronic Disease

From Disability Scoop


Though less likely to smoke or drink, a new study finds that adults with autism are at higher risk for a slew of health problems ranging from diabetes and obesity to heart failure.  In a review of insurance records for more than 23,000 adults, researchers found that medical and psychiatric issues are much more prevalent in those with autism as compared to individuals without the developmental disorder.


"Nearly all medical conditions were significantly more common in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) than controls, including diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, epilepsy, sleep disorders, dyslipidemia, hypertension and obesity," researchers said in a summary of their findings which are being presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Atlanta. "Rarer conditions, such as eating disorders, mechanical falls, vision and hearing impairments, osteoporosis and chronic heart failure were also significantly more common among adults with ASD than controls," they said.


Read more.

ADA Report to Congress Addresses Barriers to Access 

From PR Newswire 


The American Dental Association (ADA) released its inaugural "Action for Dental Health: Report to Congress" which recognizes the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Action for Dental Health (ADH) movement and the grassroots efforts taking place across the country to eliminate barriers to dental health.


The report was released during the ADA's annual Washington Leadership Conference where more than 500 dentists from across the country meet with their Congressional delegations to discuss policy issues to improve our nation's dental health.  "Millions of Americans continue to face barriers to dental care, which is why the ADA launched Action for Dental Health," said ADA President Dr. Charles Norman. "While we have accomplished much in the first year, there is still much to do. 


This Report to Congress serves as a continued call to action for elected officials, health policy organizations, community leaders and the dental community to come together to bridge the dental divide."


Read more.

Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Needs More Aerobic Physical Activity

From Health News


Nearly half of U.S. adults with disabilities who are able to do aerobic physical activity do not, increasing their risks of heart disease, diabetes or cancer.  A Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 82 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 - 64 with disabilities were more likely to be physically active if their doctor recommended it, but only about 44 who saw a doctor in the past year were advised to increase physical activity.


Adults with disabilities who do not get any aerobic physical activity are 50 percent more likely than their more active peers to have chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, stroke or heart disease.  "Physical activity is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug," Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, many adults with disabilities don't get regular physical activity. That can change if doctors and other healthcare providers take a more active role helping their patients with disabilities develop a physical fitness plan that's right for them."

The CDC analyzed data from the 2009 to 2012 National Health Interview Survey involving physical activity levels.  The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends all adults, including those with disabilities, get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic physical activity each week, Frieden said.

Healthy People 2020



A part of Healthy People 2020 focuses on promoting the health and well-being of people with disabilities.  The U.S. Census 2000 counted 49.7 million people with some type of long-lasting condition or disability.  An individual can get a disabling impairment or chronic condition at any point in life.  Disability is part of human life and an impairment or condition does not define individuals, their health or their talents and abilities.


People with disabilities play an important and valued role in every community.  All people, including those with disabilities, must have the opportunity to take part in important daily activities that add to a person's growth, development, fulfillment and community contribution.  


The Disability and Health objectives highlight areas for improvement and opportunities for people with disabilities to be included in public health activities: receive well-timed interventions and services; interact with their environment without barriers and participate in everyday life activities.

Without these opportunities, people with disabilities will continue to experience health disparities, compared to the general population.  The 2020 objectives were developed with extensive input from disability communities, and this partnership between the public health and disability communities must continue in order to meet the Healthy People 2020 objectives.


Why is disability and health important?  The largest set of U.S. health data for people with disabilities, DATA2010, measures health at the population level.  These data highlight improvements in health over the previous decade and clearly reveal specific health disparities for people with disabilities. 


Compared with people without disabilities, people with disabilities are more likely to:

  • Experience difficulties or delays in getting the health care they need

  • Not have an annual dental visit

  • Not have a mammogram in past 2 years

  • Not have a pap test within the past 3 years

  • Not engage in fitness activities

  • Use tobacco

  • Be overweight or obese

  • Have high blood pressure

  • Experience symptoms of psychological distress

  • Receive less social-emotional support

  • Have lower employment rates

Click here for more details on Healthy People 2020.

Health Literacy

Health Literacy is the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Title V, defines health literacy as the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.


Every day, people confront situations that involve life-changing decisions about their health.  These decisions are made in places such as grocery and drug stores, workplaces, playgrounds, doctors' offices, clinics and hospitals and around the kitchen table.  Obtaining, communicating, processing, and understanding health information and services are essential steps in making appropriate health decisions; however, research indicates that today's health information is presented in ways that are not usable by most adults.  "Limited health literacy" occurs when people can't find and use the health information and services they need.

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 adults have difficulty using the everyday health information that is routinely available in our healthcare facilities, retail outlets, media and communities.
  • Without clear information and an understanding of the information's importance, people are more likely to skip necessary medical tests, end up in the emergency room more often and have a harder time managing chronic diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Plain language makes it easier for everyone to understand and use health information.  Although plain language is a familiar idea, many organizations don't use it as often as they should. The Plain Writing Act of 2010  now requires federal agencies to train staff and use plain language when they communicate with the public.  CDC is committed to plain language communication with the public.  It created these posters to remind staff about plain language techniques. One poster is a checklist of the main techniques. The other three are reminder messages that focus on eliminating jargon, highlighting main messages and eliminating unnecessary details in materials.

Doctors' Ignorance Stands In The Way of Care For The Disabled 

From NPR


Something curious was happening in the emergency room.  Eight patients had come in within minutes of each other.  Almost instantly, the junior resident, two interns and a medical student signed up for all of the them - except for one.


Half an hour passed, then an hour.  As the senior resident doctor at the time, I supervised the others as they tended to the middle-aged man with chest pain, the elderly woman with a broken wrist and the teenage girl with a sore throat. New patients kept coming in, and they, too, were seen quickly.  Still, there was that one patient everyone seemed to avoid, a man in his 20s with back pain.  I watched as the medical student picked up his chart, then placed it back on the rack. Nurses, too, weren't going to his room.  Finally, I assigned a team to care for him.  "We drew the short straw here," I overheard the nurse say.


The resident sighed.  "I already ordered labs and an X-ray.  It's going to take too long to examine him, so let's just get this started."  What was different about this patient?  Was it a dangerous, contagious disease?   A mental health problem marked by a violent streak?  A history of weekly drunken visits to the Emergency Room?  No.  All he had was a wheelchair.


Read more.


Building Inclusive Healthy Communities through the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD)


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2 - 3 p.m. EST

Presenter: Amy Rauworth 

Click here to register.   


The Most Common Medical Problems in Specialized Care for People with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities (I/DD)


Wednesday, June 25,  2014

2 - 3 p.m. EST

Presenter: Dr. Ted Feigelman

Click here to register.


When in Doubt, Rule It Out: Medical Problems and Aggressive Behaviors of Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ID) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2 - 3 p.m. EST

Presenter: Dr. Lauren Charlot 

Click here to register.   


Medical Diagnostics and Health Care Justice


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2 - 3 p.m. EST

Presenters: David Capozzi, Rex Pace and Mary Lou Breslin 


Click here to register.



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Nancy Murray
President, The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh
serving Allegheny, Beaver and Westmoreland Counties
(412) 995-5000 x424