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First use of retrograde gene therapy on a human heart


Procedure delivers stem cells to the heart to repair damaged muscle and arteries
December 2, 2013

A new procedure designed to deliver stem cells to the heart to repair damaged muscle and arteries in the most minimally invasive way possible has been performed for the first time by Amit Patel, M.D., director of Clinical Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering and an associate professor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
Patel started investigating cell and gene-based therapies for the treatment of heart disease 12 years ago, but only recently received FDA approval to try the therapy on Lively, who was the first of several patients anxious to receive the treatment.
More than 6 million people are currently living with heart failure. As the condition progresses, patients’ options are usually limited to a heart transplant or assist devices, such as an artificial heart. Patel wanted to find a way to intervene in the progression of heart failure before a patient advanced to the point of needing a heart transplant or device.
Read the full article at Kurzweilai
(http://www.kurzweilai.net/first-use-of-retrograde-gene-therapy-on-a-human-heart)

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6 Surprising Signs of an Unhealthy Heart


by Melanie Haiken, Caring.comNovember 14, 2013
We’ve all read the signs of a heart attack listed on posters in the hospital waiting room. But what if there were other, earlier signs that could alert you ahead of time that your heart was in trouble?
It turns out there are. Researchers have done a lot of work in recent years looking at the signs and symptoms patients experienced in the months or even years leading up to a heart attack. “The heart, together with the arteries that feed it, is one big muscle, and when it starts to fail the symptoms can show up in many parts of the body,” says cardiologist Jonathan Goldstein of Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey. Here are seven surprising clues that your heart needs a check. Any of these signs — and particularly two or more together — should send you to the doctor for tests.

Sexual problems

Something cardiologists know but the average guy doesn’t: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the best early tip-offs to progressive heart disease. “Today, any patient who comes in with ED should be considered a cardiovascular patient until proven otherwise,” says Goldstein. In women, reduced blood flow to the genital area can impede arousal, make it harder to reach orgasm, or make orgasms less satisfying.
Scary stat: Researchers at the Mayo clinic followed men ages 40-49 with erectile dysfunction and found they were twice as likely to develop heart disease as those with no sexual health problems. Another study looked backward and found that two out of three men being treated for cardiovascular disease had suffered from erectile dysfunction, often for years, before they were diagnosed with heart trouble.
Why it happens: Narrowing and hardening of the arteries restricts blood flow to the penis, which can give men trouble when it comes to getting or keeping an erection. And because those arteries are smaller than the ones leading to the heart, erectile dysfunction can occur before any other sign of artery stiffness. Lack of oxygen can also lead to ongoing fatigue and weakness, which can sabotage libido, so lack of desire may accompany lack of success.
What to do: If you or your partner has difficulty getting or maintaining an erection or has problems with sexual satisfaction, that’s reason enough to visit your doctor to investigate cardiovascular disease as an underlying cause. Get a full workup to assess possible causes of erectile dysfunction or difficulty with orgasm. (Guys, see your GP, not just a urologist; gals, don’t just see an ob/gyn.) If your doctor doesn’t mention heart tests, request them.
Read the full article at Banoosh
(http://banoosh.com/blog/2013/11/14/6-surprising-signs-of-an-unhealthy-heart/)

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Top Five Marijuana Strains For PMS

Posted by  at 8:47 AM on November 15, 2013

There’s a serious lack of information around how cannabis can help female-specific health issues. It’s interesting to see how much research is out around issues like PTSD and other forms of anxiety, yet the health issues that disproportionately affect women are rarely talked about. This isn’t to say that women don’t also suffer from these issues, but things like premenstrual syndrome (PMS or PMDD) or menopause are hardly mentioned in relation to cannabis. Why is this? Possibly because the cannabis industry is almost always synonymous with bro-culture, pandering to twenty-something male stoners. I don’t think this trend was necessarily intentional, but gender-based bias within the cannabis industry has been largely overlooked, like most other male-dominated industries.
Due to unexamined sexism within the cannabis industry, research around female- specific health issues like PMS is still widely unknown. It’s much more common to figure out what a patient needs off the basis of the male body, leaving “lady” aliments in isolation. This whole problem pissed me off, so I decided to compile a small list of strains that have been known to help PMS from Brightside Community Foundation-the non-profit medical marijuana dispensary I work at. Many women are unaware of the benefits that cannabis can provide their health issues. As a woman pioneering her way through the cannabis industry, I want to begin to start providing that information in order to address the needs of women that are all too often left out of the conversation.
Read the full article at the Weed Blog 
(http://www.theweedblog.com/top-five-marijuana-strains-for-pms/)

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Drinking and Diabetes Don't Mix


By David MendosaHealth GuideThursday, November 07, 2013



Compared with some other stuff we put in our mouths, the trouble with alcohol might not seem to be a big deal for most of us who have diabetes. We all know, of course, that even a little alcohol can mean big trouble for those of us who can’t handle alcohol in moderation.

More than 30 percent of adult Americans have “experienced alcohol use disorders during their lifetimes,” according to a 2007 study in JAMA Psychiatry. That study also found that 17.8 percent have alcohol abuse problems and that 12.5 are alcohol dependent.

Our genes are responsible for about half of the risk for alcoholism, according to theNational Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The other half is our environment, which includes our friends.

If you were sure from your experience that you can handle a little alcohol and if you were a middle-aged or older man who didn’t have diabetes, a little alcohol might actually be good for you. That’s because the response of some people to different amounts of alcohol seems to be quite unusual. It’s not something that could be plotted on a straight line. Researchers call it a U-shaped or J-shaped curve, where among middle-aged and older men, abstinence seems to be a little worse than moderate consumption, while heavy consumption is much worse.

Read the full article at Health Central 

(http://www.healthcentral.com/diabetes/c/17/164009/drinking-diabetes-don-mix/)

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DNA damage may cause ALS

by Anne Trafton

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — is a neurodegenerative disease that destroys the neurons that control muscle movement. There is no cure for ALS, which kills most patients within three to five years of the onset of symptoms, and about 5,600 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. 

MIT neuroscientists have found new evidence that suggests that a failure to repair damaged DNA could underlie not only ALS, but also other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. These findings imply that drugs that bolster neurons’ DNA-repair capacity could help ALS patients, says Li-Huei Tsai, director of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and senior author of a paper describing the ALS findings in the Sept. 15 issue of Nature Neuroscience...

Read more at MIT 

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2013/dna-damage-may-cause-als-0915.html

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Parents’ Feeding Choices May Raise Baby’s Risk for Celiac Disease

October 7, 2013 | By Health Editor

baby-bottle-formula-400x400By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter
MONDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) — Delayed introduction of gluten to a baby’s diet and breast-feeding longer than one year appear to increase the risk of celiac disease, researchers report.
People with celiac disease have an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Over time, this abnormal response can damage the small intestine and restrict nourishment, affecting a child’s growth and development.
“Avoidance of gluten as long as possible does not seem to be advisable,” said lead researcher Dr. Ketil Stordal, a researcher and consultant pediatrician at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo...
http://news.health.com/2013/10/07/parents-feeding-choices-may-raise-babys-risk-for-celiac-disease/

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Health care through the lens of a technology entrepreneur



If you want to see the future of health care, the can’t miss conference of the year is the Health Innovation Summit hosted by Rock Health in San Francisco. As a practicing primary care doctor, I had the opportunity to view health care through the lenses of technology entrepreneurs. I thought the conference was even better than the one I attended last year. Absent was the provocative rhetoric by 2012 keynote speaker Vinod Khosla who noted that “technology will replace 80 percent of doctors.”
What continued to remain was the curiosity, confidence, enthusiasm, and optimism that health care and medical care could be even better and the willingness of entrepreneurs to fix a problem and build a business around it.
Themes I found particularly interesting included the following:
  • Make health care smarter by creating platforms, whether software or hardware, like wearables, to collect patient data and to analyze data, whether at the individual or population level, to gain insights and change behavior or predict outcomes.
  • Make health care better by using expertise from other fields, like the wisdom of the crowds, to provide patients more accurate diagnoses particularly when it revolves around a constellation of systems more likely due to a rare diagnosis.
  • Make the health care a more personalized care experience comparable to other industries with the use of information technology and mobile computing.
  • The creation of the ACA will fundamentally shift how patients will access care. This provides a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs.
  • Entrepreneurs believe that they can both do good, improve the health and medical care of individuals and the community, and make money.
Read the full article at Kevin Md
(http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2013/09/health-care-lens-technology-entrepreneur.html)

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Robotic surgery complications underreported, study finds


Johns Hopkins researchers say "slapdash" reporting means complications from robot-assisted surgery are underreported to the FDA. 
Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine have published a study in the Journal of Healthcare Quality suggesting complications arising from robot-assisted surgeries are underreported to the Food and Drug Administration.

Between 2007 and 2011, the number of robot-assisted procedures performed increased by more than 400 percent in the U.S. By 2011, there were 1,400 surgical robots installed in U.S. hospitals, up from 800 in 2007.

The Johns Hopkins team found that of the more than one million robotic surgeries performed since 2000, just 245 complications -- including 71 deaths -- were reported to the FDA.

"The number reported is very low for any complex technology used over a million times," said Martin Makary, an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Read the full article at UPI
(http://www.upi.com/blog/2013/09/03/Robotic-surgery-complications-underreported-study-finds/6481378232051/#ixzz2eWEQB0nb)

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Dual Dilemma: The Problem of Co-Occurring Disorders

Oldie (slightly) but goodie article!

December 10, 2012 by C. Scott McMillin


Imagine you’re one of those people who suffer from both alcoholism and diabetes.
You manage to quit drinking. But your blood sugar still periodically runs out of control. You suffer the very unpleasant (and sometimes dangerous) effects of that.
Conclusion: Quitting drinking helped a lot. But until you get your blood sugar managed, you’re going to feel like crap. Or worse.
Same thing applies if the second disorder is depression instead of diabetes. Some people quit drinking and find that in some respects, they’re actually more depressed. That’s a sign there may be a depressive disorder involved. One that requires treatment, too.
It took a while to figure out the best way to address this dilemma. Physicians tried treating the alcoholism first and then sending the patient on to psychiatry. But many were so depressed they couldn’t manage to stay sober in the first place.

Read more at Treatment and Recovery Systems 

(http://treatmentandrecoverysystems.com/library/dual-dilemma-the-problem-of-co-occurring-disorders/)

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The Most Efficient Health Care Systems In The World (INFOGRAPHICS)


 By  Posted: 
As supporters and opponents of the Affordable Care Act debate the best way to overhaul a clearly broken health care system, it's perhaps helpful to put American medicine in a global perspective.
The infographic below is based on a recent Bloomberg ranking of the most efficient countries for health care, and highlights enormous gap between the soaring cost of treatment in the U.S. and its quality and effectiveness. To paraphrase Ricky Ricardo, the American health care system has a lot of 'splainin' to do.
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It's remarkable how low America places in health care efficiency: among the 48 countries included in the Bloomberg study, the U.S. ranks 46th, outpacing just Serbia and Brazil. Once that sinks in, try this one on for size: the U.S. ranks worse than China, Algeria, and Iran.
But the sheer numbers are really what's humbling about this list: the U.S. ranks second in health care cost per capita ($8,608), only to be outspent by Switzerland ($9,121) -- which, for the record, boasts a top-10 health care system in terms of efficiency. Furthermore, the U.S. is tops in terms of health care cost relative to GDP, with 17.2 percent of the country's wealth spent on medical care for every American.
In other words, the world's richest country spends more of its money on health care while getting less than almost every other nation in return.
It's important to note that this data doesn't necessarily reflect the best health care in the world; it is simply a measure of overall quality as a function of cost. Bloomberg explains its methodology as such:
Each country was ranked on three criteria: life expectancy (weighted 60%), relative per capita cost of health care (30%); and absolute per capita cost of health care (10%). Countries were scored on each criterion and the scores were weighted and summed to obtain their efficiency scores. Relative cost is health cost per capita as a percentage of GDP per capita. Absolute cost is total health expenditure, which covers preventive and curative health services, family planning, nutrition activities and emergency aid. Included were countries with populations of at least five million, GDP per capita of at least $5,000 and life expectancy of at least 70 years.
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So what can the U.S. learn from the many countries that get more bang for their health care buck? Unsurprisingly, there is no one formula for success when it comes to efficient medical care. The systems that rank highly on Bloomberg's list are as diverse as the nations to which they belong. The unifying factor seems to be tight government control over a universal system, which may take many shapes and forms -- a fact evident in the top-three most efficient health care systems in the world: Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan.
Read the full article at Huffington Post 
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/29/most-efficient-healthcare_n_3825477.html?utm_hp_ref=tw)

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High-flying pilots at increased risk of brain lesions

By:  American Academy of Neurology / August 19, 2013

A new study suggests that pilots who fly at high altitudes may be at an increased risk for brain lesions. The study is published in the August 20, 2013, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.


For the study, 102 U-2 United States Air Force pilots and 91 non-pilots between the ages of 26 and 50 underwent MRI brain scans. The scans measured the amount of, or tiny  associated with  in other neurological diseases. The groups were matched for age, education and.
"Pilots who fly at altitudes above 18,000 feet are at risk for decompression sickness, a condition where gas or atmospheric pressure reaches lower levels than those within body tissues and forms bubbles," said study author Stephen McGuire, MD, with the University of Texas in San Antonio, the US Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. "The risk for decompression sickness among Air Force pilots has tripled from 2006, probably due to more frequent and longer periods of exposure for pilots. To date however, we have been unable to demonstrate any permanent clinical neurocognitive or memory decline."
Read more at Medical Xpress

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5 Clever Comebacks to Deface Disability Stereotypes

Posted on:  


Encountering stereotypes when you have a disability is more commonplace than rain in Seattle. How people with disabilities respond to these stereotypes can be all over the board.
Some of us get angry, some of us are highly forgiving and then a few of us use each negative interaction as a way to change people’s minds; and we use humorous and clever ways to do it. Hey, someone has to do the dirty work.
If you’re sick of hearing the same stereotypes, then it may be time for you to start employing clever ways to deface disability stereotypes too.  They won’t just change on their own. All of us need to lend our help to this cause.  If you have no idea where to begin on your quest to change stereotypes, then this list is for you. Read on for 5 brilliant ways to deface disability stereotypes.
Read the full article at Mobility Resource 
(http://www.themobilityresource.com/5-clever-comebacks-to-deface-disability-stereotypes/)

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Viral Infection and Specialized Lung Cells Linked to COPD


This photomicrograph depicts airway epithelial cells from lung tissue of a COPD patient. The cell nuclei have been stained to reveal IL-33, a type of signaling molecule found at high levels in COPD patients. New research shows that viral infection can induce these cells to proliferate. Release of IL-33 from these cells promotes inflammatory mucus production. These findings provide insight into the mechanisms linking acute infection to chronic inflammatory lung disease. (Source: Holtzman Lab)This photomicrograph depicts airway epithelial cells from lung tissue of a COPD patient. The cell nuclei have been stained to reveal IL-33, a type of signaling molecule found at high levels in COPD patients. New research shows that viral infection can induce these cells to proliferate. Release of IL-33 from these cells promotes inflammatory mucus production. These findings provide insight into the mechanisms linking acute infection to chronic inflammatory lung disease. (Source: Holtzman Lab)
Thu, 08/15/2013 - 2:23pm


Investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have described another link in the chain of events that connect acute viral infections to the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Their discovery points to a new therapeutic target for COPD, an extremely common disease of the lower airways that is seen in chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
COPD affects about 12 million people in the United States, where it is the third leading cause of death. Worldwide, it is the fifth leading cause of death. It is characterized by inflammation of the lower airways and destruction of lung tissue that limit airflow and pulmonary function. No effective treatments exist to specifically address a major cause of disease advancement and death from COPD – excess inflammatory mucus that blocks airways and prevents normal breathing.
It is well established that smoke exposure is a major risk factor for COPD, but in this new research, investigators show that the cells that line the airways also can respond to viruses in a way that leads to long-term lung inflammation and mucus production that are typical of COPD.
The research, featured on the cover of the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, reconciles the discrepancy between the transient nature of most viral infections and the relatively permanent nature of chronic inflammatory diseases such as COPD.
Michael J. Holtzman, MD, the Selma and Herman Seldin Professor of Medicine at Washington University, has devoted much of his career to understanding the connections between environmental agents and development of chronic lung disease. Five years ago, he and his colleagues reported that a signaling molecule called interleukin-13 (IL-13) was the key driver of excess production of chronic airway mucus after viral infection. Since then, they have pursued the basis for IL-13 production and its usefulness as a marker and a target for more precise therapeutic intervention in COPD and related diseases such as asthma.

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HBOT: A Way to Heal the Injured Brain?


Barbara Stahura, CJF, Brain Injury Journey magazine
HBOT: A Way to Heal the Injured Brain?
When SCUBA divers ascend from the high atmospheric pressure of the depths, it’s important to come up slowly so their bodies adjust to the low pressure at the surface. If they ascend too quickly, they will become ill with the “bends,” or decompression sickness, and require some time in a hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) chamber receiving 100 percent oxygen under higher atmospheric pressure. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been found to also be helpful in a variety of other conditions, including crush injuries, acute carbon monoxide poisoning, and diabetic wounds.

HBOT is also used to treat brain injury from trauma or another cause such as stroke. While the number of people who have used HBOT for brain injury is unknown, its popularity is growing. However, insurance generally does not cover it nor has the FDA approved it for this use. Some older clinical studies do not demonstrate the effectiveness of HBOT with brain injury, but a growing number of more recent studies do.

One study, from 2009, demonstrated that the patients with severe brain injury who received higher levels of oxygen in an HBO chamber had a positive increase in brain metabolism when compared to the control group and the group who received “normobaric” treatment, or treatment with pressure equivalent to sea level (Rockswald & Rockswald, 2010).

Read the full article at Brain Line 

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Volunteering Could Boost Happiness, Decrease Depression And Help You Live Longer: Study


By Sara Konrath, Ph.D.
Posted: 
volunteering happiness
Most of us know that if we eat our fruit and veggies, exercise often, and avoid smoking, we have a better chance of living longer and healthier lives. But your doctor may not have told you that regularly giving to others should perhaps be added to that healthy checklist. A new paper by Dr. Suzanne Richards and collegues at the University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK, reviewed 40 studies from the past 20 years on the link between volunteering and health. Published today in BMC Public Health, the paper finds that volunteering is associated with lower depression, increased well-being, and a 22 percent reduction in the risk of dying.

In my experience, most of the studies on this topic so far compare active volunteers to non-volunteers, following them over time to see how they are doing a few years later. This is a very common method used to understand health effects of various behaviors, like smoking, taking multivitamins, or eating blueberries. But the problem with this method is that people who volunteer are "healthier and wealthier" than people who don't. So it's not surprising that a few years later they are still looking pretty good.
Experimental studies that randomly assign some people to volunteer and others to do something else (or to go on a waiting list for a few months) are much better. At least in these studies we know that everyone started off the same.
In the new paper, the authors reviewed a few such studies, but they were cautious about the general conclusions that could be made from them. More experimental studies are needed, they said. But if you really think about it, by definition, it's a bit odd for studies to force a group of people to "volunteer." So maybe that's why these studies are uncommon.

Read more at Huffington Post 

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention



Common Stomach Bacteria
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder in Americans. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, one in every five men and women has IBS. Women are two times as likely to have the disorder. Half of all cases are diagnosed before age thirty-five.

Despite its high prevalence in the population, much is unknown about IBS. This is due in part because the area affected, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, is so dynamic. The GI tract is comprised of the stomach, small intestine and colon (a.k.a. large intestine). It’s influenced by the immune and nervous systems, and contains hundreds of different types of bacteria that aid digestion.

Read more at Live Science 

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Your life’s purpose. Why finding your passion is essential to maintaining brain health.


My north starI’ve been writing this brain health blog since April, and very quickly it has become one of my life’s great passions – my ‘north star’. I wake up every morning buzzing with excitement and feeling so blessed I’m doing what I love.
Besides trying my hardest to be the best Mum and wife I can be, my passion is writing about neuroscience.  My goal is to provide impeccably-researched evidence-based stories that are told in a simple, fun and compelling way.
Your ‘purpose in life’. Your north star, your passion, your bliss, your inner voice, your wisdom, your calling.  What do you call it?
Chris Crowley of ‘Younger Next Year’ calls it a ‘kedge’ which is his term for ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Whatever word you choose to call it …

Read the full article at Your Brain Health

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Aspirin to Zoloft: The Scoop on 5 Medicines


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New 'Consciousness Meter' Could Aid Brain-Injury Treatments


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Disability Facts as of 2013


Population Distribution

56.7 million

image of People With Disabilities
Number of people with a disability living in the United States in 2010. They represented 19 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population. Disabilities include, for instance, having difficulty seeing, hearing, having speech understood, walking, bathing, dressing, eating, preparing meals, going outside the home, or doing housework, having Alzheimer's, dementia, autism, cerebral palsy, or dyslexia, and being frequently depressed or anxious.
By age —
  • 8 percent of children under 15 had disabilities.
  • 21 percent of people 15 and older had disabilities.
  • 17 percent of people 21 to 64 had disabilities.
  • 50 percent of adults 65 and older had disabilities.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 <www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf>

20%

Percentage of females with a disability, compared with 17 percent of males.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 <www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf>

Where They Live

19%

Percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population in West Virginia with a disability ─ the highest rate of any state in the nation. Utah, at 9 percent, had the lowest rate.
Source: 2011 American Community Survey, Table R1810 <http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/11_1YR/R1810.US01PRF>

Specific Disabilities

7.6 million

image of How Common are Specific Disabilities
Number of people 15 and older who had a hearing difficulty. Among people 65 and older, 4 million had difficulty hearing.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 <www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf>

8.1 million

Number of people 15 and older with a vision difficulty.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 <www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf>

30.6 million

Number of people 15 and older who had difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 <www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf>

3.6 million

Number of people 15 and older who used a wheelchair to assist with mobility. This compares with 11.6 million people who used a cane, crutches or walker.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 <www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf>

2.4 million

Number of people 15 and older who had Alzheimer's disease, senility or dementia.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010
<www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf>

12.0 million

Number of people 15 and older who required the assistance of others in order to perform one or more activities of daily living or instrumental activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, doing housework, and preparing meals.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 <www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf>
Read the full article at Census

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