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The first signals that Ron Schneider’s heart was beginning to fail him came in the late 1980s when Ron — who was then just in his 40s — began experiencing shortness of breath, increased fatigue and weakness, and a decreased ability to do the things he loved around his home and business.
“My local doctor in Nebraska at the time knew I had a problem, but he couldn’t put his finger on it,” Ron says.
Even though X-rays showed his heart was growing in size and decreasing in function, an echocardiogram didn’t reveal an underlying reason for those changes. “In hindsight, we learned my local doctor had performed the correct test initially, but for some reason it had missed the hole,” Ron says. “It should have been an obvious problem.”
The hole was an atrial septal defect — a large opening in the wall separating the two upper chambers of Ron’s heart. The defect was finally discovered almost 10 years later. “The hole was repaired in 1996 and again in ’97,” Ron says. “The second repair held, but my heart was continuing to get larger and weaker.”
Nine years later, a heart specialist in Lincoln, Nebraska, told Ron there was nothing left that could be done to manage or repair Ron’s failing heart. “In 2006, he informed me it would be a good time to get my affairs in order,” Ron says. “I was only 63 years old.”
Unwilling to accept that fate, Ron asked for a second opinion. “I thought, ‘If another specialist tells me the same thing, I’ll have to accept it.’ But I wanted to hear it again for myself,” he says. “I was asked where I wanted to go, and I said, ‘Mayo Clinic.’ I had a daughter working in research at Mayo at the time, so I had a place to stay in Rochester. I said, ‘I’m going to Mayo.'” Read the rest of Ron’s story.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.
As many as 25 million Americans – about 1 in 13 people – suffer from a rare, undiagnosed condition. People with a rare disease often spend years visiting different medical providers and clinics seeking answers to unexplained conditions.
April 29 was designated Undiagnosed Disease Day to raise awareness that collectively, rare diseases are relatively common.
Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine brings together a team of experts, the most sophisticated genomic testing and worldwide research to solve complex, undiagnosed cases.
Genetic sleuthing of puzzling cases
The Human Genome Project —the first mapping of a person’s genetic blueprint — has unlocked mysteries of rare diseases that for ages bewildered medical science. Completed just 16 years ago, the Human Genome Project has ushered in a new era of individualized medicine that has significantly advanced the ability to diagnose rare, genetic diseases.
The Center for Individualized Medicine’s experts, who make up the Genomic Odyssey Board, consult clinical findings, DNA testing and research to solve rare disorders. Patients come from around the world seeking a diagnosis. DNA testing offers a genetic trail of clues that sometimes leads researchers and clinicians to a scientific pot of gold: a diagnosis that no one else has been able to make. Even if there’s not a treatment, having a diagnosis can be life changing. Patients can stop spending time and money visiting countless health care providers in search of answers.
Mayo Clinic has been able to diagnose approximately 30 percent of patients with unexplained genetic disorders. The Genomic Odyssey Board would like to close the gap on the other 70 percent of cases that go unsolved, and advancements in tools offer hope for a better success rate. Read the rest of the article on the Individualized Science blog.
Other Mayo Clinic medical research websites:
2 days ago · Making Mayo's Recipes: Dijon Parmesan crusted salmon
You don’t need a lot of oil to cook fish and make sure you don’t overcook it, or the fish will become dry. Just lower heat and take your time.
Each Thursday, one of the more than 100 video recipes from the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program is featured on the Mayo Clinic News Network — just in time for you to try over the weekend. You also can have the recipes delivered via the Mayo Clinic App.
These recipes are created by the executive wellness chef and registered dietitians at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. Find more recipes and other healthy living insights on the Mayo Clinic App.
DIJON PARMESAN CRUSTED SALMON
Serves 41/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
4 salmon fillets, each 4 ounces
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
Heat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine the mustard and mayonnaise. In another small bowl, combine the cheese and panko. If the consistency of the cheese and panko is not the same, place the ingredients in a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds.
Coat the top of each salmon fillet with 1½ tablespoons of the mustard mixture and 2 tablespoons of the panko mixture. Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper.
Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add oil. Cook fillets for 1 minute or until golden brown. If the pan is ovenproof, place the pan in the oven to finish cooking, or place fillets on a baking sheet crusted side up. Bake for about 6 minutes or salmon flakes with a fork.
Nutritional information per serving size 2 tablespoons: 244 calories; 12 g total fat; 3 g saturated fat; 0 g transfat; 5 g monounsaturated fat; 64 mg cholesterol; 703 mg sodium; 3 g total carbohydrate; 0 g dietary fiber; 1 g total sugars; 28 g protein.
Frequent headaches can interfere with your daily life. But healthy lifestyle choices can help you head off the pain. Start with the basics, including diet, exercise and relaxation.
Nearly everyone is familiar with the pain of tension-type headaches. But that doesn’t mean that the world stops when the pain strikes. Over-the-counter or prescription medications may help, but simply taking good care of yourself also can help prevent a pounding headache.
Make healthy lifestyle choices
A healthy lifestyle can promote good overall health and help prevent tension-type headaches. Here are the basics:
- Eat healthy foods. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast, and drink plenty of water each day.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise releases chemicals in your body that block pain signals to the brain. With your doctor’s permission, choose any exercise you enjoy, whether that’s walking, swimming or cycling. Start slowly; exercising too vigorously can trigger some types of headaches.
- Get enough sleep. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day — even on weekends. Relax before you go to bed. If you don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, get up and read or do something soothing until you’re drowsy. Avoid medications (including some headache medications) that contain caffeine and other stimulants that can affect sleep.
- Avoid excess caffeine. While caffeine may help curb headaches, heavy daily caffeine use — more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day (about four regular cups of coffee) — can cause headaches and irritability. Chronic caffeine use also increases the risk of headaches, as does quitting caffeine altogether — whether you quit suddenly or cut back gradually.
- Quit smoking. The nicotine in cigarette smoke reduces blood flow to the brain, and triggers a reaction in the nerves at the back of the throat, which may lead to a headache.
Keep stress under control
Stress and tension-type headaches often go hand in hand. To reduce stress, try these simple tips:
- Simplify your life. Don’t look for ways to squeeze more activities or chores into the day; instead find things you can leave out.
- Take a break. If you feel overwhelmed, a few slow stretches or a quick walk may renew your energy levels.
- Exhale. When you feel your stress levels rising, take several deep breaths and count to 10.
- Adjust your attitude. Think positive thoughts. Don’t think that something is impossible; tell yourself that you are up to the challenge.
- Let go. Don’t worry about things you can’t control.
Ease muscle tension
Tense muscles can trigger tension-type headaches. Apply heat or ice to relieve tense neck and shoulder muscles. Use a heating pad set on low, a hot water bottle, a hot shower or bath, a warm compress, or a hot towel. Or apply an ice pack (wrapped in a cloth) or a cool washcloth across the forehead.
Massage also can relieve muscle tension — and sometimes headache pain. Gently massage your temples, scalp, neck and shoulders with your fingertips, or gently stretch the neck.
Take time to unwind every day. Try this deep-breathing exercise:
- Lie down on your back or sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor; hands in your lap.
- Imagine yourself in a peaceful place, perhaps a beach or quiet forest. Keep this scene in your mind.
- Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply for at least 10 minutes.
- When you’re done, sit quietly for a minute or two.
Try to practice these breathing exercises or another form of relaxation every day.
Keep a headache diary
A diary may help you determine what triggers your tension-type headaches. Note when your headaches start, your activities, how long the headaches last and anything that provides relief. The diary may help you spot patterns in your daily habits that contribute to your tension-type headaches.
Look for improvements in your headaches as you make additional healthy lifestyle changes.
3 days ago · Mayo Mindfulness: Change your mind to grow
Can you change the way you think about yourself and your mindset? Or improve how you feel just by altering your thoughts? Yes, you can.
Your brain is malleable and constantly adjusting. This (thankfully) gives you the ability to learn and adapt throughout life. But, sometimes, your thought patterns get the better of you. These growth mindset tactics will help you recover faster from a setback and improve your ability to take criticism.
The fixed mindset
Throughout life, people have probably commented on your abilities — a parent saying you’re smart, a teacher recognizing you were good at math, a boss calling you a hard worker.
Over time, these messages can “fix” how you see yourself. People call you smart, so you must be. Eventually, this view of yourself will slam into life’s inevitable failures or criticisms. What happens then?
The fixed mind interprets common setbacks and mistakes as a personal shortcoming or lack of ability. This results in:
- Negative emotions
- Blaming of others
- Quickness to give up
- Avoidance of challenges in the future
Fortunately, your mindset doesn’t have to be fixed for life.
The growth mindset
Enter the growth mindset. Folks with this outlook understand that they can develop their abilities and adapt them to different situations. They know mistakes are inevitable, which helps them recover more quickly from setbacks. The growth mindset values:
- Effort to achieve goals
- Opportunities to learn from mistakes
- New challenges
- Constructive feedback
- Resilience in the face of setbacks
A growth mindset correlates with good physical and psychological health and is a strong predictor of achievement. Students with a growth mindset engage with school more fully and have better grades over time.
Cultivate a mindset for growth
Try applying any of these growth mindset tactics the next time you face a challenge.
- Understand that your brain is like a muscle — regular exercise makes it stronger. Give your brain new challenges. Feed it new knowledge and focus it for longer periods of time. These exercises create new and denser connections of neurons, which will make your brain more powerful. Also, ask yourself if you see challenges as an opportunity or a threat.
- Boost your confidence and recall times when you successfully learned something and increased your understanding. Was there a time when you didn’t know how to do something, then practiced it and got better?
- Try a “Saying is believing” exercise. Identify a struggle — perhaps it’s exercising, saving money or a project at work. Imagine writing a letter to someone struggling with the same issue. What advice would you give? Explaining how someone else can respond makes it easier to recall those thoughts and put them into action for yourself.
- Try evoking any of these thoughts to kick-start a growth mindset.
- Think, “I am curious to learn what will happen if I try this challenge.” This will keep you from focusing on a particular outcome or expectation.
- If you aren’t 100 percent successful at reaching a goal, try thinking: “I will try a different approach the next time I do this and apply what I learned the first go-round.”
- After achieving a goal or action, ask yourself what you did to make that happen. Note the process and mindset when entering into action.
Adjusting to a growth mindset will give you more resilience in the face of challenges and better outcomes throughout life. So accept some new opportunities in your life, and then learn and grow from them.
4 days ago · Tuesday Tips: 9 non-prescription ways to manage pain
Prescription drugs can be an effective way to relieve aches and pains. But they may not always be necessary. Check out these other ways to get past your pain.
Journalists: Broadcast-quality video 1:32 is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please “Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network.”
Sun, May 12 2:00am · Sharing Mayo Clinic: "Don't follow your dreams, lead them"
Editor’s note: What began in high school as a hobby combining poetry and music soon became a passion for Alexander Ou. He now uses that platform to convey important messages. Alexander, who works in Mayo Clinic’s Department of Human Resources by day and is a hip-hop artist by night, shares his story of overcoming criticism for pursuing his passion and staying committed to his goals. His commitment extends not only to his music, but also to his career at Mayo Clinic.
By Alexander Ou
I am a Cambodian American hip-hop artist born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota. I am a father of four — three sons and one daughter. I started creating music when I was 14 and have done so for the last 17 years.
I lived in Bloomington, Minnesota, for a few years because it was closer to the airport. I was traveling almost every weekend for shows throughout the country and sometimes even overseas.
When I had my third child, I decided to move back to Rochester. I needed more of a steady income to support my family. I found a position at Charter House that I enjoyed and that was flexible with my schedule.
At the annual high school career festival that Mayo Clinic hosts, I was asked to represent Charter House at our booth. During the festival, I was approached by students familiar with my music. I took this opportunity to inform them about Charter House and the positions available. This led to a number of new hires at Charter House.
At the following year’s festival, we had a representative from Mayo Clinic Human Resources assist with on-site applications. Similar to the previous year, I was approached by students, and I pitched Charter House’s opportunities. Our Human Resources representative noticed this, and she informed me that there was an opening in Human Resources for a limited-tenure position as an administrative assistant. I took the position. A year or so later, a full-time position opened. Now here I am as a full-time Human Resources coordinator.
“We all have dreams, but none of them becomes reality until you wake up and take it into your own hands.” Alexander Ou
As for my hip-hop career, I originally started writing poetry when I was 13 years old. The very first poem I wrote was called “Day 911” and was written on Sept. 11, 2001, about the terrorist attacks. I showed a friend, and she showed it to our teacher. This caused a snowball effect. Read the rest of the story.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.