Not all strokes can be prevented, but making healthy lifestyle choices, like exercising, eating right, maintaining a healthy weight and treating conditions such as high blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure can help reduce your risk of another one. Consider following these tips to achieve ideal health.
Don't Let Stroke Strike Twice
(Family Features) Not all strokes can be prevented, but making healthy lifestyle choices, like exercising, eating right, maintaining a healthy weight and treating conditions such as high blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure can help reduce your risk of another one.
While there are about 7.2 million stroke survivors in the United States, people who have had a stroke are at high risk of having another one. In fact, about one in every four stroke survivors will have a second one.
Efforts like Together to End Stroke, an American Stroke Association initiative, nationally sponsored by Bayer Aspirin, work to educate stroke survivors and caregivers about how they can avoid a second occurrence.
Because the consequences of a second stroke can be more detrimental than the first, it’s important to recognize the signs, which come on suddenly, and act quickly. An easy way to remember the most common warning signs is the acronym F.A.S.T., (F – face drooping, A – arm weakness, S – speech difficulty, T – time to call 911).
Talk to your doctor about medications that may help you with your stroke prevention efforts. For example, taking aspirin regularly or other blood clot prevention medications can help reduce the risk of another ischemic stroke.
Consider following the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s “Life's Simple 7” to achieve ideal health:
Don't smoke. Smoking puts you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Quitting is one of the best things you can do to improve your health and add years to your life. You’re more likely to quit for good if you prepare for your last cigarette and the cravings, urges and feelings that come with quitting.
Eat a healthy diet. Healthy eating starts with simple, healthy food choices. You don’t need to stop eating your favorite meals, just use substitutions to make them healthier. Learn what to look for at the grocery store, restaurants, your workplace and other eating occasions so you can confidently make healthy, delicious choices whenever and wherever you eat.
Maintain a healthy weight. The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight go beyond improved energy and smaller clothing sizes. By losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, you can also reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. There’s no trick to losing weight and keeping it off, but the majority of successful people modify their eating habits and increase physical activity.
Control cholesterol. Having large amounts of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the bad cholesterol, in the blood can cause build up and blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Reducing your fat intake, especially trans fats, often found in fried foods and baked goods, can help reduce your cholesterol. Adding more foods with omega-3 fatty acids like fish and nuts, as well as soluble fiber and whey protein, helps in managing cholesterol.
Manage blood pressure. Nothing causes more strokes than uncontrolled high blood pressure. Of the 116.4 million people in the United States who have high blood pressure, fewer than half have it under control, putting them at increased risk of stroke. Lowering your blood pressure by 20 points could cut your risk of dying from stroke by half.
Control blood sugar. By managing your diabetes and working with your health care team, you may reduce your risk of stroke. Every two minutes, an adult with diabetes in the United States is hospitalized for stroke. At age 60, someone with type 2 diabetes and a history of stroke may have a life expectancy that is 12 years shorter than someone without both conditions.
For more information on how to prevent stroke, and a complete list of warning signs, visit strokeassociation.org/americanstrokemonth.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
American Stroke Association
Could you have a heart attack? Reduce your odds through these tips.
(BPT) - Many Americans consider themselves well-informed and attentive when it comes to their health.
That’s why it's so puzzling that many remain unfazed by the threat of heart disease.
That was among the findings of the MDVIP Heart Attack IQ Survey, a national study showing Americans are more concerned about cancer than a heart attack — even though cardiovascular disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined. In fact, heart disease is the underlying cause of one in three U.S. deaths. Many Americans don’t take it seriously because they believe most heart problems can be treated with medication or surgery, while others simply procrastinate when it comes to adopting healthier behaviors that help prevent heart disease.
As a result, many are surprised when faced with a life-threatening heart attack, which can happen to anyone at any age. While the average age for a first attack is 66 for men and 70 for women, the risk increases significantly as soon as men reach 45 and women reach 55.
“Despite the statistics, people assume a heart attack is going to happen to somebody else, but not to them,” said MDVIP Chief Medical Officer Dr. Andrea Klemes. “Heart disease can be dangerously silent, which is why it’s important to know your risk factors and the steps you can take to minimize them.”
Gloom and doom aside, awareness of the issue is the first step, and there is much you can do to prevent heart disease. Some 80 percent of heart attacks and strokes are preventable.
Consider these suggestions for reducing your risk of heart attack:
* Partner with your primary. Your primary care doctor is your first line of defense in helping prevent heart disease. Make sure you partner with a physician who has the time to identify and discuss your risk in detail, who will work on a plan to control your risk factors and who can provide ongoing support to keep you motivated and accountable. Physicians like those in the MDVIP network maintain smaller practices so that they can devote more time to each patient and provide the coaching needed to keep them on track.
* Stay up to date on screenings. When’s the last time you had your blood pressure and cholesterol checked? But don’t stop at the basics. Most heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels. You also want to get a read on whether you have inflammation in your arteries or insulin resistance, both of which raise your heart disease risk. You can only act on what you know, and knowing your numbers is key to early detection.
* Make heart-healthy changes. Creating and sustaining healthy lifestyle habits can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar in check and lower your risk for heart disease. So don’t skip your exercise, weight management or smoking cessation programs. Just make sure you consult with your doctor before changing your diet or beginning a new exercise program.
* Sleep more, stress less. While often overlooked, insufficient sleep and excessive stress can put strain on your heart over time. Both can also influence your eating habits, mood and overall health. Most adults need seven to nine hours per night; if you’re getting that and still feel tired, consider asking your doctor for a sleep apnea test. Also, try starting a regular practice — whether it’s a yoga class, deep breathing or a daily walk outside — to better manage stress.
Take the Heart Attack IQ quiz and learn more about finding a preventive physician by visiting www.mdvip.com/HeartAttackIQ.
The HealthiHer movement aims to give women the tools they need to make such changes at home, at work or in their communities. If you’re among those struggling to take good care of yourself because of other obligations, consider how these suggestions might help.
(BPT) - If you’re an American woman today, chances are your busy lifestyle is preventing you from seeking out the regular check-ups and screenings so important to maintaining your health. And that’s true regardless of your economic status or whether you live in a rural, urban or suburban area.
So reports a recent HealthiHer survey showing that only 66 percent of U.S. women ages 30 to 60 feel “somewhat in control” of their own health, although 83 percent are happily managing the health of their families. The study, co-sponsored by Redbook magazine, HealthyWomen and GCI Health, found that a full 77 percent of women in that age group say that their job schedules prevent them from attending regular check-ups.
"Women today wear many hats — they’re wives, mothers, caregivers, employees, business leaders and breadwinners, often at the same time," says Wendy Lund, CEO of leading communications agency, GCI Health. "Even when it feels like there are not enough hours in the day, we somehow manage to integrate everything in our lives to ‘make it work’ and accomplish insurmountable tasks. And this constant juggling can come at the cost of our own health."
The good news? The survey also reveals that 79 percent of respondents see positive change as achievable. The HealthiHer movement aims to give women the tools they need to make such changes at home, at work or in their communities. If you’re among those struggling to take good care of yourself because of other obligations, consider how these suggestions might help.
* Truth: You can’t help others without caring for yourself. Why do emergency airline instructions tell you to attach your own oxygen mask first? Because you could otherwise pass out before helping others. That same principle applies to your general health; you must maintain your own energy and well-being so you can stay around to be an effective mom, wife, daughter, sister and/or friend.
* Take stress seriously. While not all stress is bad, long-term unrelieved stress can have major adverse effects on your health, reducing the effectiveness of your immune, digestive, sleep and reproductive systems. Recognize the risks, plan methods for fighting stress and carve out time for exercise, sleep, meditation, yoga and/or other remedies.
* Try online resources. An annual in-person physical is always recommended, but health issues in between check-ups can often be taken care of through online sites that diagnose issues through questionnaires or video chats — then prescribe medicine or other therapies without need of an office visit.
* Make exercise a no-brainer. As the saying goes, sitting is the new smoking. If you don’t make daily movement of some sort a priority in your life (doctors recommend at least 150 minutes of brisk exercise per week) you’re putting your physical and emotional health at substantial risk. Among other benefits, exercise can help prevent diabetes and heart disease while reducing stress, back pain, arthritis, asthma and other common ailments.
* Set health care appointments well ahead. To secure the slots that work best with your schedule, call or go online way ahead of time so you have a wider range of options. Some clinics now offer evening or weekend hours to help those with demanding daytime jobs or roles. Planning ahead, and writing each appointment in ink on your family calendar, helps ensure you’ll make your own care a priority even if your schedule ramps up.
"It isn't selfish to put ourselves first, but in all honesty, we know that will never happen, our kids will always come first," says HealthyWomen CEO Beth Battaglino. "However, can we shoot for second? This is an investment in both our health and the health of our families. Women who don't take care of themselves are not going to be around or it will affect their ability to care for their loved ones, and this survey revealed that those who don't make time to get their health screenings, like mammograms, pap tests, eye exams, blood pressure, etc., actually had more health concerns."
More women’s health tips related to the HealthiHer Movement can be found at HealthyWomen.org or Facebook. Participate in the movement by posting a photo on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram depicting you taking charge of your health (Use the hashtag #BeHealthiHer).
(BPT) - Most patients undergoing knee surgery want to know when they’ll be able to return to a pain-free, active lifestyle and do the things they once enjoyed before knee pain took over. For 58-year-old Kathleen Cohan, this meant a desire to return to mountain biking, hiking and skiing — activities she had always loved to do as a youth and continued to enjoy with her husband in their hometown of Golden, Colorado.
Cohan recently participated in a clinical trial to treat persistent knee pain caused by a meniscus tear. After receiving the NUsurface Meniscus Implant — the first “artificial meniscus” — she completed a six-week rehabilitation program and was ready to return to doing the things she loved.
“The NUsurface Meniscus Implant changed my life. It feels great to not have to worry before I choose an activity about how much pain I’ll be in afterward,” Cohan says. “My husband and I recently went on a 100-mile mountain bike trip, and I climbed a 14,000-foot peak last month and my knee didn’t bother me at all. The implant gave me a chance to extend my activity level as long as I possibly can.”
Three months after surgery, most patients have completely recovered and are able to return to many activities that were too painful or difficult previously. Once you’ve been cleared by your doctor, the safest way to restart activity after meniscus surgery is to find activities that avoid placing unnecessary stress on your knee joint. Here are three activities to help you move safely after knee surgery:
1. Walk (don’t run!). Experts say walking outside your home three to five times each day is one of the best ways to regain your knee strength. While you may need to adjust the length of your step and speed, you will be able to spend more time walking for exercise once your muscle strength improves.
2. Dance. While you should avoid high-impact moves like jumping or lifts, ballroom dancing and gentle modern dancing are great ways to use leg muscles, engage in aerobic activity and have fun! Just be sure to avoid abrupt movements or twists that could potentially put your knee out of alignment.
3. Swim. Once the wound has healed, many people choose swimming as their exercise of choice as it’s not a weight-bearing activity and therefore reduces stress to the joints. If your knee is still a bit tender, opt for water aerobics or pool walking.
Want to mix it up? You can feel safe doing many other recommended activities such as yoga, golf, boating, aerobics or rowing. If you have experience prior to your surgery doing more intense activities, like Cohan, your doctor may give you the go-ahead to resume cycling, hiking, cross-country skiing and doubles tennis. Whichever activity you choose, remember that rushing into activities before you’ve recovered sufficiently may put you at risk for complications, so be sure to check with your doctor first before resuming any activity after meniscus surgery.
To be eligible for the NUsurface Meniscus Implant clinical studies, you must be between the ages of 30 and 75, and have pain after medial (the inside of the knee) meniscus surgery at least six months ago. To find a study site near you, visit www.activeimplants.com/kneepaintrial.
Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability in the United States and among the top five causes of death. However, with proper, timely medical attention, stroke is largely treatable. Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of a mini-stroke could help save a life.
Understanding the Serious Nature of Mini-Strokes
A survey conducted by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association shows one-third of United States adults have had symptoms consistent with a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke, but only 3 percent called 911 for help.
“Ignoring any stroke signs could be a deadly mistake,” said Mitch Elkind, M.D., chair of the American Stroke Association Advisory Committee. “Only a formal medical diagnosis with brain imaging can determine whether you’re having a TIA or a stroke.”
The survey showed 35 percent of respondents experienced at least one sign of a TIA or mini-stroke, such as sudden trouble speaking or a severe headache with no known cause. According to the online survey, those who suffered symptoms were more likely to wait it out, rest or take medicine rather than call 911.
Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability in the United States and among the top five causes of death. However, with proper, timely medical attention, stroke is largely treatable. The faster you are treated, the more likely you are to have a positive outcome.
The American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke initiative, nationally sponsored by Medtronic, teaches the acronym F.A.S.T. to help people remember the most common stroke warning signs and what to do in a stroke emergency:
F – Face drooping
While the symptoms are the same, the difference between a TIA and a stroke is that the blockage is temporary, lasting between a few minutes and 24 hours. People who suffer a TIA, sometimes called a warning stroke, are more likely to have a stroke within 90 days, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
Elkind said anyone who experiences a stroke warning sign that appears suddenly, whether it goes away or not, should call 911 immediately. This could improve the chances of an accurate diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
Stroke symptoms come on suddenly with no known cause and may include confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; or a severe headache.
To learn more about stroke warning signs and treatment, visit StrokeAssociation.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
American Heart Association
(BPT) - We're sitting too much and it's dangerous. The average American spends more than seven hours sitting every day, and the more time you sit, the higher your risk of serious, potentially life-threatening health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So, what can you do about it?
Fortunately, there are simple changes you can make during the day - anywhere, even at the work place - to improve your wellness and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. As part of the American Diabetes Association's(R) Wellness Lives Here(SM) initiative, the Association encourages everyone to get active for National Get Fit Don't Sit Day(SM) with these 10 tips for the workplace and beyond.
Park a few blocks away from the office each morning and walk to work.
This allows you to start off your mornings energized and ready to take on the workday. If you take public transportation, get off one stop earlier to squeeze in some light exercise before 8 a.m.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Waiting for the elevator often takes just as long as walking up the stairs, so why not use this opportunity to get your heart rate up? Plus, you'll get the chance to work your leg muscles.
Get up and move around the office once every 90 minutes.
When you're nose-deep in work, it's easy to lose track of time. Set up reminders on your phone or email every 60-90 minutes to get up and do a quick lap around the office. You can use this time to fill up your water bottle, go to the bathroom or catch up with coworkers.
Ask questions and discuss issues face-to-face.
Rather than sending an email every time you have a question, go to your coworker's office to discuss the issue face-to-face. This gives you a good excuse to get moving and a chance to more effectively hash out solutions in person.
Use your lunch break to move around outside.
So many Americans today work through their lunch break. When possible, take advantage of this time to walk outside and soak in the nice weather. Fresh air and vitamin D are often all you need to stay focused and push through the afternoon slump.
Stand up and stretch.
If you don't have time to walk around the office every 90 minutes, use the opportunity to stand up and stretch instead. Stretching is a great way to increase energy levels, reduce muscle tension and get your body moving.
Pace around the office during conference calls.
Conference calls are the perfect time to be active. Put clients and coworkers on speaker, or use your mobile phone during meetings to move around without any trouble.
Do chair exercises at your desk.
You've been wanting to tone your arms for the summer - why not achieve your goals at the office? When you need a break, do a few reps of chair sits. You can even alternate between chair exercises and push ups!
Hold standing or walking meetings.
Many coworkers will welcome the opportunity to stand and stretch their legs for a moment. If you have a two-person meeting, consider going for a walk.
Fidget when you work.
Small movements and quick exercise breaks add up, especially in a sedentary work place, so challenge yourself to stand, stretch or even tap a foot to bring motion into otherwise still parts of your day. Just remember to keep it professional!
Making a point to move throughout the day puts you on the right track toward wellness. For more ideas on how to increase physical activity and maintain a healthy lifestyle, download the Association's e-tool kit today to incorporate the principles and activities of National Get Fit Don't Sit Day into the workday and beyond.
There are small, everyday steps you can take to make a big impact on your overall health, using available resources in your city or county. Here are five easy tips to help increase your daily wellness.
(BPT) - If you spend a large portion of your day sitting, you're not alone.
Inactivity is one of the key factors contributing to the nation's high rate of obesity and its related health effects. Research shows 50 to 70 percent of people spend six or more hours a day sitting, and 20 to 35 percent spend four or more hours a day watching TV.
This type of inactivity - or 'sitting disease' - can lead to serious health conditions. For example, nearly 35 percent of U.S. adults are obese, and obesity-related conditions including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer are among the leading causes of preventable death. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. is $147 billion. Annual medical spending on an obese patient is estimated to be $1,429 higher than it is for a person of normal weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While those figures are discouraging, there is one easy solution that could have a profound impact.
Walking is one of the simplest, least expensive and most effective ways individuals can improve their health. It does not require any special skills, expensive equipment or a gym membership.
Below are six easy ways to incorporate more walking into your day:
1. Take a walk with a coworker at lunchtime or schedule a walking meeting.
2. Schedule a walk with the family after dinner.
3. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
4. Walk to see a colleague rather than call or e-mail.
5. Get off the bus or train one stop early on your way to work.
6. Start or join a walking or hiking group.
By getting just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as a brisk walk, at least five times a week, you could realize significant health benefits. Walking has been shown to lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, improve muscle, bone and joint health, maintain a healthy weight, lead to better sleep and provide a mental boost.
That's why the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association encourages individuals, groups and whole communities to take steps towards a healthier lifestyle through its WalkingWorksÂ® program. WalkingWorks, now in its 10th year, was developed in partnership with the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports to help Americans live healthier lives and reduce unnecessary medical costs. Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies across the country also host annual National Walk@Lunch day events as a way to promote healthy habits by incorporating walking into a busy work day.
So don't just sit there and let that warm weather go to waste. Take steps to a better you, and see how walking does work!
*Before beginning any weight loss or nutritional program or new exercise regime, consult with your doctor or healthcare provider.
For more information on the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit www.BCBS.com. We encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, check out our videos on YouTube, follow us on Twitter and check out The BCBS Blog for up-to-date information about BCBSA.
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