Discover More About Your Family Health History with these Genetics Resources

Knowing our family health history is often the key to our own personal health. Many chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, are often inherited. But we can also inherit genes from our family that can increase our chances of developing certain serious diseases such as cancer. Understanding genetics can be confusing for anyone. Luckily there are many resources available to help you make sense of this important topic.

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The Best Apps for Better Sleep

An oldie but a goodie: This app round-up was originally published on 11/2/17.

Happy Daylight Savings Time! Although the time switch means it’s time for warmer weather and longer days, when our clocks spring forward, it often leaves us feeling groggy and tired. In general, we tend to be fairly sleep deprived – according to the CDC, more than a third of American adults are not getting at least 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis, causing chronic sleep deprivation. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults aged 18–60 years sleep at least 7 hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being. Sleeping less than seven hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress. Yikes!

Luckily, aside from Daylight Savings Time, this week is also Sleep Awareness Week, giving you a prime opportunity to focus on getting better rest. There are lots of ways you can improve your sleep, including these tips from the National Sleep Foundation. To encourage you to focus on getting better sleep, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite sleep apps to help you track your sleeping habits, fall asleep faster, and sleep more soundly.

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Habits for Healthier Sleep

Raise your hand if you’re tired right now. OK, now raise your hand if you’ve been tired at least a few afternoons this week. Unfortunately, I bet every single one of you lovely readers raised your hand for at least one of those – according to the CDC, one third of Americans are chronically sleep deprived, regularly clocking in at fewer than 7 hours a night. The number of people who experience occasional and/or recurrent sleep deprivation is even higher – studies show that nearly everyone experiences occasional sleep deprivation. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation can lead to a slew of problems: from reduced concentration, lowered immunity, irritability, and low productivity in the short term to the increased risk of heart disease, anxiety, depression, chronic inflammation, dementia, and much more over the long term.

Luckily, there are some easy ways to help you sleep more and sleep better! Next week is Sleep Awareness Week, so we want to encourage you to try these tips next week to see how you feel! If you find yourself more rested, you can work them into your regular routine.

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Celebrating Pioneering Women in Medicine: March is Women’s History Month!

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on 3/16/17.

Happy Women’s History Month!! Although you don’t have to go far to run into a brilliant female medical student, faculty member, of staff member at the UCF College of Medicine, medical education was not always so. The first American woman to become a medical doctor (Elizabeth Blackwell), obtained her medical degree in 1849, but it has been a slow journey to the more diverse (though still imperfect) medical education system in the U.S. today.

In a previous post, In Celebration of Brilliant Women: March is Women’s History Month, I discussed the current state of the gender disparity in medical education: “Although it is clear that women have come a long way in American history, the glass ceiling seems to be alive and well in academic medicine. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, although nearly half of American medical students and medical residents are women (47% and 46%, respectively), only 16% of deans, 15% of department chairs, and 33% of senior associate/vice deans are women. As of 2014, only 22 out of the 141 deans of American medical schools were women.” Happily, the UCF College of Medicine is ahead of this national curve, and the numbers of women in academic medicine are slowly changing to match those of the larger medical profession.

We love celebrating and supporting the awesome female medical students, faculty, and staff studying at and employed by the UCF College of Medicine, as well as celebrating influential women in medicine throughout history. We’ve rounded up some of these female pioneers in medicine for your Women’s History Month reading pleasure:

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Paving the way: A Brief History of Black Pioneers in Medicine

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on February 18th, 2016.

Pursuing a career in medicine can be a challenging experience for anyone. For many aspiring Black doctors, these challenges were often associated with discrimination and a lack of opportunities to prove their worth, particularly in the early 19th and 20th centuries. Many barriers had to be torn down and doors opened before access to a quality medical education could be achieved for people of color. To celebrate Black History Month, we’re sharing with you a brief history of how these opportunities were built.

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Get Moving! Best Exercises for Heart Health (That Aren’t Running)

We all know that in order to develop strong muscles in our body, we need to exercise. But did you ever consider that your heart is also a muscle? Arguably the most important muscle in your body, the heart also needs to be worked out to stay in tip top shape and keep ticking. If the thought of lacing up and heading out the door for a heart-thumping run gives you panic attacks, no need to stress. Running isn’t for everyone, and there are lots of ways to make your heart strong that don’t involve running—although, that’s also a pretty great way to strengthen your ticker, too!


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Health Benefits of Art and Creativity

It’s no accident that our Health Sciences library is brimming with artwork created students, faculty, and staff at the UCF College of Medicine. Creating and viewing art is not only fun and fulfilling, it also has amazing health benefits: from improved focus and concentration to reduced stress and anxiety. So whether you paint, draw, write, sing, dance, play an instrument, create pottery, color-by-numbers, or even just enjoy strolling around in a museum, you’re potentially having a big impact on your overall health and well-being.

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Organ Donation 101

An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on 2/9/17.

A very special day is just around the corner: the one day a year when you can give your heart to someone new… or your liver, or a kidney. That’s right – February 14th isn’t just Valentine’s Day, it’s also National Organ Donor Day! Today on the blog, we’re celebrating by exploring how organ donation works, so that you can make an informed decision about your preference to donate!

There are currently 119,000 men, women, and children on the national transplant waiting list, and 22 people die every day waiting for a transplant. The good news is that more that 130 million people in the U.S. are registered as organ donors, and one donor can save up to 8 lives. However, only 3 in 1,000 people die in such a way that allows for organ donation.

Image copyright Catherine Lane 2015

Image copyright Catherine Lane 2015

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Heart Healthy Tips for Dining Out

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means plenty of people are going to be heading out to their favorite eateries for a meal. It’s a good excuse to order something indulgent and extravagant, but can you order good food from the menu that is also good for your heart? The answer is yes! There are plenty of ways to make heart-healthy menu choices no matter what type of restaurant you end up at. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

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