Your heart is the engine of your body. And even though you might think it’s working normally, this major organ requires special care and attention.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 600,000 people in the United States die each year from heart disease. The CDC also reports that a quarter of Hispanics have high blood pressure.
There are many types of heart complications, but one of the most common is coronary heart disease.
What is coronary heart disease and what are the causes?
This illness — called atherosclerosis — happens when plaque forms in the artery walls, restricting normal blood flow through the body. This plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium and other substances.
There are many risks factors causing coronary heart diseases, some related to your lifestyle or medical conditions, including:
High blood pressure
Excessive alcohol consumption
Smoking, among others
When a clogged artery restricts your flow of blood, you may experience these symptoms:
Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmias
Heart failure, or even a heart attack
Prevention and treatment
To reduce the risk of getting these or other heart diseases, take your blood pressure every six months and go over the results with your doctor. It’s also a good idea to eat well, exercise and not smoke.
Along with a balanced diet and exercise regimen, your physician may also prescribe medication to treat heart disease. If your condition is more advanced, bypass surgery may be needed to allow the blood to return to its normal flow.
The Internal Revenue Service and 14 commercial software providers are making an offer that’s hard to beat: do your taxes online for free.
This public/private partnership is called Free File, which provides free brand-name software or fillable forms. If your income is $58,000 or less — and that’s 70 percent of taxpayers — you can use a Free File software product. If your income is more, use Free File Fillable Forms. Explore your options only at IRS.gov/freefile.
Each participating Free File company sets its own eligibility criteria, generally based on income, age, state residency or military status. You can either browse the offers yourself or use a “Help Me” tool that narrows the list for you.
The IRS previously announced it would delay the filing season due to critical system testing following the federal government closure. However, Free File software became available January 17. Companies will safely and securely hold completed returns until the IRS begins accepting tax returns on January 31. Free File Fillable Forms also is available starting January 31.
The tax deadline remains April 15. If you can’t make the April 15 deadline, you also can use Free File to file for a six-month extension with Form 4868. You can then use Free File through October 15.
The IRS also needs your help in making more people aware of Free File. If you are a governmental agency, business or charity, there also are products for you to increase awareness among your clients, customers or own employees at freefile.irs.gov/partners.
You can get a good overview in this Spread the Word appeal. There is sample content for emails and newsletters, a social media content calendar, a tax-day countdown widget for your website and Infographics on How to Free File and the Benefits of Free File.
Protect Your Kids During Cold and Flu Season with Free or Low-Cost Health Insurance
From the Department of Health and Human Services
While children may be dreaming of winter fun, parents worry about sore throats, coughs and fevers—along with the cost of doctor’s visits and medication.
According to the CDC, the single best way to protect children from the flu is to get them vaccinated each year. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) offer free and low-cost health insurance for eligible children and teens, so they’ll have the coverage they need for flu shots and other immunizations, as well as regular check-ups, doctor and dental visits, hospital care, mental health services, prescriptions and more.
To see if your child is eligible, visit InsureKidsNow.gov or call 1-877-KIDS-NOW. A child or teen up to age 19 in a family of four earning up to $47,100 a year or more may qualify.
For more information about new, affordable health insurance options for the whole family through the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit HealthCare.gov.
If you haven’t enrolled by March 31, you won’t be able to apply until the next open season, unless you qualify for a special enrollment period or experience a qualifying life event. Open season for 2015 will likely begin on November 15, 2014.
Winter Blues or Something More? Our Tips for Seasonal Affective Disorder
The holidays have come and gone. Most of the country has already been in a deep freeze, and there are still long, harsh months of winter yet to come. It’s no wonder many people come down with a case of the “winter blues.”
This bummed out reaction occurs when the days are shorter and you spend much more time inside. To combat these feelings, you might try light therapy, and increasing physical activity. If it lasts more than a fleeting day or two, it could be seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — a serious form of depression occurring in the winter months when there is less exposure to natural sunlight. Some symptoms of SAD include:
Feelings of worthlessness or helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
Fatigue or decreased energy
If you suspect your mental state is more than just a bad day, consider these ways to get help:
The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a 24-hour helpline (1-800-662-HELP) for mental health services if you or someone you know needs immediate attention.
Find a doctor. SAD is not something you should deal with without consulting a professional. After evaluation, they may be able to prescribe a medication to help you.
You can learn more about depression and other health issues at USA.gov. Don’t suffer through the entire season—enjoy what winter has to offer. It can be more than just hibernation.
How to avoid scams that appear to be from the government
Every day, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives numerous complaints from people who have been scammed.
Some of these complaints are from people who are encouraged to reveal information about their salary, benefits, tax rebate, or bank information.
In order to get this information, the criminals pose as Federal government representatives and make fake letters, e-mails, phone calls or websites that look real and official.
Protect yourself from scammers by following these recommendations:
Be wary of suspicious calls. Don’t reveal personal information like your Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers to people who call and tell you they work for the government. No government agency will ever call you out of the blue and ask for personal data.
Don’t pay money when applying for a free scholarship or grant. Government agencies will not ask for money upfront to process any grants or subsidies. These transactions are free and only official government agencies provide federal scholarships or grants.
Don’t believe false job offers. Many scammers use websites that look like they’re associated with the government to post jobs and offer guaranteed employment in exchange for money. Do not send money or reveal personal and confidential information to people who hand out brochures or study materials for job placement exams. Job applications in all government departments are free.
File a complaint
If you have been scammed or you suspect someone is committing fraud, register a complaint or get in touch with the FTC at 1-877-382-4357.
When filing a complaint you may be asked for the following information:
Date, time and phone number of the call you received
Name, website or email address of the organization that contacted you
The amount of money and form of payment that the scammer requested
On December 31, 2013, President Barack Obama proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. He called upon private businesses, civil society groups, faith leaders, families, and individuals to recognize the vital role they can each play in ending all forms of modern slavery.
Learn what you can do in your own life to fight human trafficking on DipNote.