Conquering Sleep Problems


If you’ve been accused of getting up “on the wrong side of the bed,” is it because you didn’t get much sleep on any side on the bed? Some simple changes in your daily habits may be effective in helping you rest easier.

Exercise early. Activity too close to bedtime can wind you up and make it difficult to relax. Try to exercise in the morning or early evening—regular exercise at these times may even help you sleep better.

Watch what you eat and drink. Eating a large meal or drinking caffeinated beverages before bed can keep you up, and alcohol, even if it initially makes you feel sleepy, may make it difficult to stay asleep.

Help your mind stop racing. Have too much to think about when your head hits the pillow? Make time earlier in the evening to write down worries and possible solutions or make a to-do list for the next day.

Stick to a sleep schedule. If possible, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day—even on the weekends. This can help your body set its biological clock for regular sleep.

Make your bedroom comfortable. Many people sleep best in a room that is cool, dark and quiet. A comfy bed is also important. A fan or white noise machine can help block out distracting noises or help lull you to sleep.

Focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths—you may even want to count them. Relax the muscles in your body—slowly working your way up from your toes to your head.

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Comparing the DASH and the Mediterranean Diets

Jennifer Ozkurt Jennifer Özkurt is a Dietetic Intern at the Rex Wellness Center. She currently attends Meredith College.


According to the CDC, hypertension (high blood pressure) affects 70 million Americans. It’s a condition which can lead to weakening of the arteries, stroke, and heart and kidney disease if is not controlled. High blood pressure is a measured blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. Shockingly, one out of three American adults has prehypertension, which is blood pressure higher than normal between 120/80 to 140/89 mmHg. Many American do not have this condition under control, increasing their chances of developing hypertension.

The typical American diet of over processed foods and eating on-the-go affects one’s chances of developing hypertension. Research has shown that healthy lifestyle changes such as a low sodium diet high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, along with moderate physical activity, can lower and prevent the development of these conditions. Here we will compare two of the most proven dietary approaches for preventing hypertension and improving ones dietary health, the DASH and Mediterranean diets.

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)

The DASH Diet was developed as a dietary approach to lower blood pressure without the use of medication and has been proven useful for weight loss. It reduces sodium consumption, and promoting an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts. These foods provide an abundant source of nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which have lowering effects on blood pressure.

The Dash Diet plan was developed with everyone in mind, and it is a therapeutic meal plan that can be easily adapted for a lifetime of healthy eating. The overall goal of this dietary approach is to encourage lifestyle changes which promote healthy dietary behaviors. You can choose from two plans based on individual need. Version one allows for 2300 milligrams of sodium per day. The second is for 1500 mg of sodium per day and is promoted by the American Heart Association. It’s the recommended diet for adults 51 years of age or older, African Americans, or for those with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Mediterranean Diet

In the 1970s, it was concluded in the landmark Seven Country Study that a so called “peasant diet” consumed throughout the Mediterranean had a beneficial effect on heart health and other co-morbidities. It was determined that dietary fats, such as saturated fat, contributed to the development of heart disease. The traditional Mediterranean diet was introduced in 1993 by the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organizations as a lifestyle change to be used as a prevention strategy for heart disease, in addition to hypertension, obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Like the Dash Diet, although its distinction includes the title of diet, the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle change, which encompasses healthy eating patterns. It encourages eating more whole foods packed with nutrients and less of heavily processed and refined foods. Due to variations among countries throughout the Mediterranean, recommendations include multiple versions from the traditional plan to the new Mediterranean pyramid.

Side-by-Side Comparison

When looking at a side-by-side comparison of the Mediterranean diet compared to the DASH diet plans they vary slightly in whole grains, fruit and vegetable servings per day. However, the Mediterranean diet differs greatly in the amount of fish, lean meat, and sweets consumed. Red and processed meats come with the lowest serving recommendations per week of two or less, or in some cases, these meats are only recommended at one to two servings per month. In addition, two or more servings of fish, the use of olive oil in food preparation at each meal, and a daily serving of nuts are encouraged on a Mediterranean diet plan.

Benefits of Adherence to Either Diet

  • Reduces hypertension as much as seven to 12 points, over time.
  • Improves weight loss outcomes
  • Reduces hypertension by four points with every 10 pounds of weight loss.
  • Reduces primary and secondary cardiovascular risk
  • Reduces the inflammation response in the body
  • Helps lower risk for osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Take Home Message

Both the DASH and Mediterranean Diets promote healthy lifestyles, which includes both physical and nutritional health. If you have hypertension, talk with your doctor or a dietitian to explore your current diet and lifestyle.

Do your homework! There are many books and online resources for you to learn more about these diets and recipes.

Remember, when making a change to your diet, start with one behavior that you would be willing to change. Change should come gradually to allow for the behavioral modification to take place. For instance, you may have considered switching from white bread to whole grain breads. Give yourself a start date and an end point to reassess your ability to make this change. Ask yourself what barriers kept you from meeting your goal or expectation. More importantly, forgive yourself if and when set-backs occur, but analyze why the setback occurred and then continue where you left off.

For more information or if you are having trouble making dietary changes, make an appointment to talk to a registered dietitian. A dietitian can provide counseling and tips to help guide you on diet strategies and maintaining a healthy diet long-term.

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‘Got To Be NC’ Competition Dining Series (Triangle) Champions

Competition Dining Champs

Congratulations to Chef Ryan Conklin and teammates Chefs Steve Pexton and Collin Jennings for winning the ‘Got To Be NC’ Competition Dining Series (Triangle) competition!

They battled their way through four tough rounds against the talented chefs at Top of the Hill, Midtown Grille, Faire and Curt’s Cucina.

Now they move on to the ‘Battle of Champions’ to cook against the winners of the Competition Dining ‘City’ and ‘Triad’ competitions. Stay tuned for more info on the ‘Battle of Champions’ which will take place later this year.

If you weren’t able to attend the battles, be sure to check out these articles from ABC 11 and WRAL Out and About for a full recap of the action.

Want to try their winning recipes at home? Here’s your chance to try their Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt & Pepper-Horseradish Rubbed Certified Angus Beef® Brand Strip Loin and Uno Alla Volta Hay-Smoked Mozzarella Logan Turnpike Grits.

Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt & Pepper-Horseradish Rubbed Certified Angus Beef® Brand Strip Loin


  • 1 ea. Certified Angus Beef® Brand Strip Loin
  • 1 c prepared horse radish
  • Bourbon Barrel Smoked Salt & Pepper to taste


  • Trim all fat and silver skin off the strip loin
  • Cut the strip in half-length wise
  • Season with the smoked salt and pepper
  • Sear the meat on all 4 sides, then run the horseradish thinly over the strip loin.
  • Roast in a 325 degree oven until an internal temperature of 125 degree is reached
  • Let the meat rest for 15 min then slice in to 3oz medallions

Uno Alla Volta Hay-Smoked Mozzarella Logan Turnpike Grits


  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup coarse Logan turnpike grits
  • 2 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 oz UAV hay smoked mozzarella shredded
  •  2 tablespoons diced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic


  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy sauce pan, add shallots and garlic. Cook 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add chicken stock, 1 1/2 c milk, salt and bring to a boil.
  • Add grits gradually, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  • Reduce heat and cook at a bare simmer, covered, stirring frequently, until water is absorbed and grits are thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup milk and simmer, partially covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep grits from sticking to bottom of pan.
  • Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and grits are thick and tender, about 35 minutes more.
  • Add shredded mozzarella and stir in. (Grits will have a soft, mashed-potato-like consistency.)
  • Stir in pepper and remaining 2 tablespoon butter
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Fitness Trackers: Which One Should I Choose?

AllyAlly Setliff coordinates and leads the group exercise and health promotion programs for Rex Wellness Center of Raleigh. Ally graduated from East Carolina University with a B.S. Health Fitness Specialist degree. She is also an registered clinical exercise physiologist through American College of Sports Medicine and has experience with cardiac and pulmonary rehab. She holds her primary group exercise certification through AFAA, and personal training certification through National Strength and Conditioning Association. She loves to share her passion for exercise and creativity in every class that she teaches. Her main goal is to make others enjoy exercise as much as she does. Ally enjoys every type of dance, sprint triathlons, running, road cycling, and barre is her newest passion.


Technology is a great way to keep us on track with exercise and healthy eating. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular activity trackers, mobile apps and websites that monitor your workouts and can help boost your motivation.

  • Fitbit: This is the most popular fitness tracker on the market. Fitbit offers different types of trackers that can be worn as either a pedometer, activity wristband, or even embedded into a high-fashioned bracelet. Depending on which device you purchase, you may be able to track steps, distance, calories burned, or sleep patterns. You can set daily goals, earn badges, and challenge friends. Newer Fitbit devices have GPS capabilities that track elevation, pace and heart rate. Some also have music capabilities. Be wary! A few trackers that attach to clothing may be easily forgotten and accidentally laundered. I’ve done it at least 5 times already. I recommend purchasing a wristband style instead. Other options in this style include the Jawbone© or Nike + FuelBand. These devices are very comparable to Fitbit, with similar aesthetics and capabilities.

Don’t want to spend the money on a device? There are several free apps or websites that also measure progress and keep you motivated.

  • MyFitnessPal: This is one of my favorite mobile apps. If you do not own a smart phone, you can track your information through their website at The app makes it super easy to track daily calories, water consumption, exercise and weight. There is also a social component that allows you to challenge and encourage friends. Progress is shown in easy to read charts. The app and use of this website are free. You need to take time to enter your food intake each day. Research shows that those taking the time to track their food intake are more successful in their weight loss/healthy eating journey than those who do not track their food. Be as accurate as you can about portion size when tracking your calories for each meal. You’ll be surprised how quickly calories add up! Other free apps that have similar capabilities as MyFitnessPal are Fitocracy, Challenges, Fleety, and Lose it!
  • RunKeeper: Training for a race? The best tracker I have found for racing is RunKeeper. Whether you are training for a 5k, sprint triathlon, or marathon, this app does a great job with goal setting and providing training plans. It has GPS capabilities to track distance traveled, pace, and speed for running outdoors. It also has capabilities to track indoor workouts on the treadmill. You can track other non-running activities that you do during the week such as Zumba, Barre, or strength training. The app also helps you motivate your friends. It alerts you when you have reached a personal record and it sends push notifications if you have gotten off track that week. Another personal recommendation: Be smart about free training plans provided for long distance races. If you are inexperienced in long-distance running, don’t forget your rest days! You don’t want to suffer an injury by pushing too hard, too fast. It is also important to include core and strength training in your weekly running plan. Other popular apps for race training are Mapmyrun, Nike + running, and PUMATRAC.
  • Heart rate monitors: Your heart rate can provide a more detailed measurement of exercise and can be monitored in several ways during your workout. How do you know if you are working hard enough during exercise? Exertion and heart rate are the main ways to measure how intense a workout it. Some may be familiar with the “talk test” and RPE scale as common ways to assess how hard you are working. You can always track heart rate by manually taking your carotid pulse, but there are several devices that will track heart rate for you. Polar Heart Rate Monitors come with a sports watch that shows current heart rate, max heart rate, and also summarizes your workout. Some devices go as far as telling you how many calories were burned during your workout. There is a free app that can measure your heart rate on smart phones now called Instant Heart Rate. With this, you just touch your finger to the camera lens on the smart phone to gauge pulse with real-time charts. How cool is that?

Bottom line? There are several different ways to track important info from your workout, and you don’t need to get top of the line equipment to do so. Finding something that gives you a way to measure progress is the biggest factor in staying motivated and seeing results.

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Winter Weather Closings and Delays


Bookmark this page for the latest winter weather closings and delays from Rex Healthcare.

If you have an appointment at one of our facilities, please call the office to verify the status of your appointment.

 Last Update: 3/2/15  9:53 am

There are no closings or delays at this time.

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Recipes from the Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series

Congratulations to Chef Ryan Conklin and his teammates chefs Steve Pexton and Collin Jennings! They’ve won the Got To Be NC Competition Dining Triangle Series.

Try out some of the wining recipes for yourself! Here are two recipes from the winning battle against Chef Trey Cleveland of Top of the Hill. The secret ingredient was Shiitake Mushrooms.

ColcannonPotatoesColcannon Potatoes
By Chef Ryan Conklin

“These potatoes are what I like to call “Irish Soul Food.” A style of cooking that I learned while working and living in Limerick Ireland as a young chef.” Chef Ryan Conklin


  • 1 pound Shaved Brussels Sprouts or shredded green cabbage
  • 1 pound potatoes (peeled)
  • 1 Cup of thinly sliced scallions
  • ½ Pound of diced bacon
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted butter
  • Salt and White pepper to taste


  • Boil potatoes until tender. Remove from heat and drain.
  • In a sauce pan, render down diced bacon until it is crisp. Remove bacon, and add Brussels sprouts or shredded cabbage and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Season and mash potatoes well. Stir in cooked Brussels sprouts, scallions and milk.
  • Mix well, adding butter, salt and white pepper.

Serves 4-6

Gorgonzola Cheesecake with Mushroom Brulee
By Chef Steve Pexton


  • 7.6 oz Graham Crackers
  • 3 oz Corn Meal
  • 1 oz Powdered Sugar
  • 2 T Dried Mushroom Powder
  • 2.6 oz Butter (melted)
  • 1 Egg White
  • 10″ Parchment Paper Circle

Mix the graham crumbs, corn meal, 10X and mushroom powder together. Add the melted butter and the egg white and mix together.

Lay the parchment circle in the spring form pan. Press crust mixture into the parchment lined spring form pan and bake in a 350* for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and set on the counter to cool while preparing the batter.


  • 20 oz Cream Cheese
  • 7 oz Gorgonzola Cheese
  • 8 oz Sugar
  • 1 oz Cornstartch
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3 oz Heavy Cream

Combine the sugar and cornstarch together and beat with the cheeses in a mixer until smooth and creamy. Combine the extracts, egg and yolks and add 1 at a time, stopping the mixer and scraping the sides of the bowl and beater after each addition of egg. Repeat until all eggs are used. Add the cream last and beat until smooth.

Pour batter in the spring form pan and bake in a 250* oven until set. About an hour and a half.   To check, open the oven, pull the rack with the cheesecake on it out until it stops and tap the side of the pan. If the cheesecake giggles once, it’s ready.

Mushroom Brulee

  • 1/2 C Sugar
  • 2 T Dried Mushroom Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Cracked Pepper

Combine. Sprinkle over the cheesecake prior to serving. Caramelize with a blowtorch, as you would a crème brulee.

Makes 1 10″ Cheesecake


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Navigating Nutrition Noise

Ashley HoneycuttAshley Honeycutt, RD, LDN is the Manager of Corporate and Community Services for Rex Wellness Centers. She blogs about nutrition, wellness & healthy living.

Health_800Diet advice can be confusing, conflicting and overwhelming. Almost daily, you hear about a new study that contradicts the one you heard the week before. New studies gain traction in the media and spread like wildfire. You search the internet to read more about what you just heard on the news and you become even more confused. You may worry that you’re making the wrong decision for you and your family, sometimes becoming fearful or feeling guilty about your food choices. There is SO MUCH information and “advice” out there. Some of it intentionally causes fear and confusion in order to sell a product or message.

Know that real science takes time. Our opinions should not change overnight based on what we hear on the news. Numerous studies need to occur and results need to be replicated in order to make educated conclusions. Many “studies” you hear about in the media fail to replicate. Slow-moving science isn’t fancy and doesn’t garner media attention. Controversy always sells.

Healthy eating shouldn’t be controversial, fancy or cause fear. Turn off the TV and stop searching unreliable web resources. Instead, seek the expert, science-based advice of a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians have done the research for you. We can show you what to believe and what to ignore. We can help you incorporate healthy eating into your lifestyle without fear or confusion.

Rex Wellness Centers offer private nutrition counseling for weight loss, food allergies, chronic disease management and much more. Contact us today to get started.

Not sure about seeing a Registered Dietitian? Check out these 10 reasons for why you should visit a RD.

Are you diabetic? Our Certified Diabetes Educators at the Rex Diabetes Education center can help you manage your blood glucose levels through proper diet and exercise. Contact us today to learn more.

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The Rex Comprehensive Breast Care Program is expanding!


The Rex Comprehensive Breast Care Program is expanding! We are proud to announce the opening of our new breast surgery clinic, Rex Breast Care Specialists. The clinic, an extension of Rex Surgical Specialists, is located in the same building as the Rex Breast Care Center at 3100 Duraleigh Road, Suite 205.

Rex Breast Care Specialists features board-certified surgeons, Dr. David Eddleman, Dr. Rachel Goble and Dr. Nancy Crowley. The clinic will be adding another fellowship-trained breast surgeon this summer as well. Combining their expertise with compassion, our surgeons focus on patients and their breast care needs in a calming, supportive atmosphere.

Our surgeons offer consultations, follow-up appointments, minimally invasive breast biopsies and coordination of comprehensive care for breast cancer and other complex breast problems. In addition to providing state-of-the-art breast cancer treatment, they treat many benign breast problems including breast cysts, nipple discharge, breast pain, breast lumps, mammographic abnormalities and patients with an elevated risk of developing breast cancer based on personal and family history.

Rex Breast Care Specialists is a seamless part of Rex’s Comprehensive Breast Care Program. Our breast surgeons also work closely with breast radiologists in the Rex Breast Imaging & Diagnostics Center and with physicians in the Rex Cancer Center. Patients at the clinic will receive a personalized treatment plan that may include some of the following services offered at Rex:

  • 3-D mammography
  • Screening and diagnostic digital mammography
  • Stereotactic breast biopsy
  • Bone-density testing
  • Ultrasound-guided needle biopsy
  • Breast ultrasound and MRI
  • Cyst aspiration
  • Lumpectomy, mastectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy
  • Coordination with plastic surgeons for immediate breast reconstruction
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Physical therapy, occupational therapy and lymphedema management
  • Participation in clinical trials
  • Guidance from nurse navigators
  • Counseling and nutrition services
  • Wellness and rehab support programs

All of these services will be linked with the surgical care offered at Rex Breast Care Specialists. “I’m excited about the addition of our new breast surgery clinic to the Rex Comprehensive Breast Care Program,” said Dr. David Eddleman, Breast Surgery Medical Director. “Our patients can now experience the convenience of having their breast imaging, surgical evaluation and support all in one central location.”

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Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Genevieve Spiliopoulos of Rex Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists at Wakefield is board-certified in audiology. She is a member of the American Speech and Hearing Association and is also a licensed Fast ForWord® provider.

Are the crickets chirping when the sun is shining? Is the tea kettle whistling when there’s no water on? These sounds you’re hearing may be due to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

I have been practicing audiology for over 15 years. I have always known about the dangers of excessive exposure to loud sounds. It wasn’t until recently, though, that I truly understood how loud the world is.

I think this realization came to me when I moved to North Carolina from New York City. Now you may say to yourself, how could this be? The City is much noisier than peaceful North Carolina, and you would be correct. The lifestyle in North Carolina, however, leads to more recreational sports, chores that expose us to loud sounds, extracurricular activities such as playing in the band, and let’s not forget about just listening to our MP3 devices at maximum volume levels.

Exposure to loud sounds over a period of time or exposure to a sudden, intensely loud sound for a short period of time can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. According to the American Academy of Audiology, approximately 36 million Americans have hearing loss. It is estimated that one in three of these individuals developed their hearing loss as a result of noise exposure. Noise-induced hearing loss is not just an adult issue, but a pediatric concern as well. There are approximately 5 million children between the ages of 6 and 19 with reported noise-induced hearing loss. Once sound levels reach 85dB, our ears are at risk if exposed to those sounds levels for longer periods of time.

Below is a chart of common sounds and their decibel equivalents:


How loud is too loud? There are many sound-level meter apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. If you decide to use a downloadable app, be sure to place the phone near your ear to get an accurate reading.

If you don’t feel like using an app, there are some other common sense ways of knowing how loud is too loud. If you have to raise your voice to be understood by someone you are talking to, if the noise physically hurts your ears or if you develop a ringing or hissing sound in your ears, then your environment is too loud. You should either walk away or use hearing protection.

There are various types of hearing protection, and their appropriateness is dependent on each person’s needs. At the very least, if you find yourself in a noisy environment, use disposable earplugs, which are sold at most drugstores.

However, if you are routinely exposed to loud sounds, you should seek advice from your audiologist on the most appropriate hearing protection to suit your needs. Noise-induced hearing loss is 100% preventable as long as consistent and proper hearing protection is used in dangerously loud environments.

Whether you are hunting, mowing the lawn, riding on an ATV, playing the saxophone in your school band or just listening to your tunes – protect your hearing. Your ears will thank you for it!

Genevieve Spiliopoulos recently joined Rex Healthcare’s newly opened Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists at Wakefield.  In addition to Genevieve Spiliopoulos, audiologist, the practice also consists of two board-certified otolaryngologist, Dr. Brett Dorfman and his colleague, Dr. Esa Bloedon.

The new practice provides a full range of medical and surgical ear, nose and throat treatment for adult and pediatric patients. In partnership with Rex, a member of UNC Health Care, patients have access to all of the resources and specialty care that Rex and UNC have to offer.

Call 919-570-5900 to schedule an appointment.

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Wellness Wednesday: Yoga for the Heart


Be sure to visit the Rex Wellness Centers’ Facebook page every Wellness Wednesday for a post featuring recipes, tips, workouts and more from our wellness experts.

By now you’ve probably heard about the benefits of yoga, traditionally involving slow stretching of the body while focusing on meditation and breathing. But did you know it can also be an integral part of heart disease prevention and management?

For one thing, yoga postures work the muscles, which is good for the heart and blood vessels. And, like any physical activity, it can make your muscles more sensitive to insulin, which is good for controlling blood sugar. The deep breathing associated with yoga may also lower your blood pressure temporarily and calm stress hormones.

In addition to these possible benefits, preliminary research suggests yoga may:

  • Improve heart failure symptoms
  • Ease palpitations (rapid or pounding heartbeat)
  • Complement cardiac rehabilitation
  • Lower cholesterol levels

If you have heart problems or another chronic health condition, discuss any new exercise regimens with your doctor first.

Are you a member of the Rex Wellness Centers? Check out our Group Fitness Schedule and attend a yoga class today!  Not a member? Learn more and join today.

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