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Your Health
By Robert McCoppin | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 3/31/2008 12:13 AM

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Preventing falls

Each year, about a third of older Americans fall, making falls the leading cause of serious injuries in older adults. The American Geriatrics Society recommends telling your doctor about any falls to check your balance and health, see whether medications might be affecting you and to possibly recommend exercises.

To prevent future falls, get rid of hazards like loose rugs and clutter on floors and stairs, add lights and night lights in dimly lit areas, and add hand rails to steps, toilets and bath tubs. Also, wear shoes with traction, not loose slippers or socks.

Alzheimer's trial

Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is participating in a trial of a vaccine against beta-amyloid (Ab), a peptide that appears to be involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease. This is the first test of the vaccine in people.

The goal of the placebo-controlled study is to determine a safe dose of V950, an experimental Alzheimer's disease vaccine made from Ab, for use in further trials. The study will also evaluate how strongly the vaccine affects the immune system.

All humans produce Ab peptide. A leading theory about Alzheimer's is that Ab peptides build to toxic levels and injure brain cells.

The study is for those over 55 who have been diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's. For information, contact Janie Urbanic at (312) 942-8264.

Need for knees?

Knee replacement might not be the best choice for those active in sports, doctors warn. For middle-aged patients, the Harvard Medical School newsletter reports, joint replacement can relieve pain and improve daily activities like walking and climbing stairs.

But no knee replacement should get regular pounding from running or jumping. The artificial joint will loosen up and wear out faster.

Anyone with significant chronic knee pain, the school suggests, should weigh the pros and cons of a knee replacement with a doctor, and get a second opinion.

Cancer support

Advocate Lutheran General Hospital is forming a support network for women with breast cancer.

The Breast Cancer Networking Group will meet from 2 to 3 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month beginning April 15. The group gives breast cancer survivors the opportunity to share information and experiences with other women.

The group, facilitated by Ashley Harlow, an American Cancer Society Patient Navigator, will be held at Lutheran General's Center for Advanced Care, 1700 Luther Lane, Park Ridge, in the ground-floor conference room G104. For more information, call (847) 723-8130.