Make Heart Health Part of Your Self-Care Routine
(Family Features) Devoting a little time every day to care for yourself can go a long way toward protecting the health of your heart. Simple self-care, such as taking a moment to de-stress, giving yourself time to move more, preparing healthier meals and not cheating on sleep, can all benefit your heart.
Because heart disease is largely preventable, focusing on improving your heart health is important. Heart disease is a leading cause of death for women and men in the United States, and many Americans remain at risk, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). People with poor cardiovascular health are also at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
“Studies show self-care routines, such as taking a daily walk and keeping doctor’s appointments, help us keep our blood pressure in the healthy range and reduce our risk of heart disease and stroke,” said David Goff, M.D., NHLBI’s director of cardiovascular sciences.
It may be easier than you think to “put your heart” into your daily routine. Each Sunday, look at your week’s schedule and carve out 30 minutes for heart-healthy practices. Take an online yoga class, prepare a heart-healthy recipe, schedule your bedtime to get at least seven hours of sleep or make a medication checklist. Then seek out support from others to help you stick to your goals.
Consider these self-care tips to try each day to make your heart a priority:
Treat Yourself Thursday
Learn more about heart health and heart-healthy activities in your community, and see what others are doing for their heart health, at nhlbi.nih.gov/ourhearts or follow #OurHearts on social media.SOURCE:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
6 top medicine safety reminders for your home
(BPT) - With families spending more time than ever working, playing and studying at home, it’s a good time to review best safety practices when it comes to using and storing medicines. This is especially true during the cold and flu season — while the nation is also in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — when many families may have more over-the-counter (OTC) medicines in the home than usual.
It’s smart to keep your family safe from harm with these helpful easy-to-follow steps.
1. Read and follow Drug Facts labels. Don't take more than the recommended amount of medications, as dosage directions are created specifically to keep you and your family safe.
2. Don’t combine medications. Some medicines may duplicate active ingredients you're already taking. For example, cold medicines may also contain pain relievers and/or fever reducers, so if you’re already taking a pain reliever, adding a cold medicine could mean doubling your intake of an active ingredient, which could be harmful. Double check medication labels for the active ingredients and only take one at a time. When in doubt, contact your healthcare professional for advice.
3. Store medications up, away and out of sight from the reach of children. Make sure to buy only child-resistant containers, but remember — “child-resistant” does not mean “childproof.” Keeping them out of reach is also crucial for safety. Put them up and away, out of sight and out of reach, after every use.
4. Store other items safely. Any potentially toxic substances your kids could get into should also be kept well out of reach, including, but not limited to: hand sanitizer, vitamins, diaper rash cream and eye drops.
5. Keep medications in a cool, dry place. The bathroom medicine cabinet is actually not ideal for storing medicines, as heat and humidity can affect them.
6. Consult your healthcare professional if you or a family member feels ill. You can get advice on what kinds of OTC medicines (if any) are appropriate for the symptoms you or your family member are experiencing, and specific dosage recommendations.
If someone has a fever
It can be upsetting when someone has a fever, especially your child. A fever is actually the body’s natural defense against bacterial or viral infections. A person’s normal body temperature is approximately 98.6 degrees F, but it may fluctuate depending on different factors.
If you or a family member has an elevated temperature, it may signal the presence of a bacterial or viral infection. A fever is also one of the common symptoms of COVID-19, amongst many other conditions. If you are concerned about a fever, it’s best to contact your healthcare professional.
Your healthcare professional may recommend an OTC pain reliever/fever reducer to help you feel better, no matter what the cause. Common OTC pain relievers that can reduce fever and achiness include acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (the active ingredient in Advil or Motrin IB). These medications are safe and effective when used as directed. Always read Drug Facts labels carefully and follow their directions for dosage and timing.
For a fever, it also helps to:
A body temperature at or above 104 degrees F requires immediate care, so contact your healthcare professional right away, or call an urgent care or emergency provider if your regular healthcare professional is unavailable.
Be prepared for an emergency
Make sure you and any caregivers (including older children or babysitters) know how to contact Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 for free, confidential, expert medical and safety advice, 24/7. Program the number into phones and post it visibly at home.
To learn more about medicine safety, visit GetReliefResponsibly.com/covid-19-medicine-safety.
Stroke awareness: It's always an emergency
(BPT) - The sudden onset of stroke symptoms can happen to anyone at any time, making education about the signs and symptoms of a “brain attack” the first line of defense to stroke prevention.
“I’m a fanatical fan of football, so you can imagine how excited I was to enter the stadium to see my favorite team play; but I lost my balance and fell. I’m lucky the people near me jumped into action and called 911,” recalled stroke survivor William Martin. “They are the real heroes in my medical emergency story; they knew the signs of a stroke.”
Stroke is the second leading cause of death and third leading cause of disability worldwide. Today, only 10% of stroke survivors make a full recovery and 25% recover with minor impairments. Forty percent of survivors experience moderate to severe impairments that require special care. Strokes are common and deadly but the good news is almost all strokes can be prevented.
What is stroke
A stroke happens when the blood vessels carrying nutrients to the brain either form a clot or rupture, causing a sudden blockage in the arteries leading to the brain. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die.
How to prevent stroke
What can you do to prevent stroke?
1. Monitor your blood pressure
2. Control your cholesterol
3. Keep your blood sugar down
4. Keep active
5. Eat healthy
6. Lose weight if necessary
7. Do not smoke
In the event of stroke: Act F.A.S.T
“Every minute from the time the stroke occurs to when you receive treatment makes a difference,” said neurointerventional radiologist at Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City Jared Halpin, M.D. “Many types of stroke are now treatable with emergency medical interventions to either quickly dissolve or remove the blood clot or stop the bleeding that is causing symptoms.”
Seek treatment, F.A.S.T. Follow the acronym below to check for signs of stroke:
• FACE Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven or lopsided?
• ARM Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
• SPEECH: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
• TIME to Call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
“My doctor restored the blood flow in my brain by threading a tube through an artery in my leg and used a medical device called Solitaire™ X to remove the clot. I was surprised I didn’t need brain surgery,” said Mr. Martin. “The best part — I watched the final quarter of the game on TV while in the hospital recovery room.”
Eighty million people have survived stroke worldwide. For more information on stroke prevention tips and treatment options please visit the World Stroke Organization at www.world-stroke.org.
5 reasons it's still important to get your flu shot
(BPT) - As our country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, the threat of the pandemic will become more complicated by increasing cases of the flu, making more people ill and putting further strain on the U.S. health care system.
Pediatric epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist Dr. Emily Godbout from Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU offers five crucial reasons everyone should get a flu shot this year.
1. Flu shots help reduce serious respiratory illness
While some people who get vaccinated may still contract influenza, the flu shot typically prevents about 70 of 100 people who receive it from developing a moderate to severe flu infection. So even though the vaccine might not completely prevent the flu, it can help keep you from getting sick enough that you have to go to the hospital.
“Reducing the overall burden of respiratory illnesses is really important to help protect vulnerable populations at risk for severe disease,” said Godbout, “And it also helps lessen the resulting burden on our health care system, which is crucial throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Godbout said that while practices people follow to help guard against COVID-19, such as handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks, will probably help decrease the spread of influenza, the flu shot is still the single most effective way to reduce the spread of the flu.
2. Flu shots are safe
“The flu shot is very safe and effective at helping prevent severe disease and hospitalization,” Godbout said. “I know people might have reservations about coming into the doctor’s office, but I can assure everyone that our providers are really vigilant about taking appropriate precautions to make sure everyone is safe.”
The doctor also pointed out that patients will not contract influenza from the vaccine. “The virus is inactivated,” she said, “so it can’t actually cause the flu infection after you get the shot.”
Flu shots are recommended for anyone six months old and older.
3. Flu shots are updated every year
“The U.S. flu vaccine is reviewed every single year and updated to match circulating flu viruses,” said Godbout. “The flu vaccine can typically protect against three or four different viruses. Since the virus changes from year to year, immunization or natural infection from the previous year is not protective."
She also said that our antibody response — what helps us fight the virus — can decrease over time, so a yearly dose will help boost the antibody response before the start of the influenza season.
4. Influenza and COVID-19 share some overlapping symptoms
It’s important to know that some symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza are similar. If you have symptoms you are concerned about, it’s best to call your health care provider right away. You may need to be tested for both the flu and COVID-19 to be certain what is causing you to be sick, so your doctor can recommend the best course of treatment.
While having the flu shot doesn't mean you can't get the flu, as discussed above, a vaccination will at least lessen the severity of your symptoms — giving you and your loved ones peace of mind.
Reducing the spread of flu cases overall, by getting vaccinated, will help cut down on the number of seriously ill patients that clinics and hospitals need to diagnose and treat, which will help everyone get through the winter season more easily.
5. A flu shot protects you throughout the season
Now is a good time to get vaccinated. It takes a couple of weeks for antibodies to develop in your body, but the vaccination will continue to protect you throughout the worst months of the flu season.
Godbout said, "We will continue to offer the flu shot throughout the fall and winter."
For the latest on flu and COVID-19, visit vcuhealth.org.
What you need to know about your thyroid - and why many weight, sleep and mental health issues can often be glandular. Learn more by reading the full Medium article here.
Spring is here and with it comes the task of spring cleaning. For people with allergies, spring cleaning does more than spruce up a home. When done correctly, it removes dust, mold, dander and other allergy triggers so you can feel your best. Learn how by reading the full Medium article here.
After a heart attack, as many as 1 in 4 survivors will have another one. Lifestyle changes and working closely with your doctor to manage your health can help minimize the risk of a repeat event. Talk to your doctor about a secondary prevention plan, and consider other steps like these.
How to Reduce Your Risk for Another Heart Attack
(Family Features) After a heart attack, as many as 1 in 4 survivors will have another one. Lifestyle changes and working closely with your doctor to manage your health can help minimize the risk of a repeat event.
“A heart attack is a life-changing event,” said Nieca Goldberg, MD, American Heart Association volunteer and medical director of NYU Women’s Heart Program. “What many people don’t realize is the hidden risks that led to your first heart attack can be managed and, by doing this, you may reduce your risk of having another one.”
Because up to 80% of heart attacks are preventable, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for reducing your risk. Talk to your doctor about a secondary prevention plan, and consider other steps like these from the American Heart Association’s secondary prevention program, nationally sponsored by Bayer:
Take your medications as prescribed. Certain medicines can lower your risk of another cardiac event. That’s why it’s important to understand your medications and take them correctly. Taking aspirin as recommended by a doctor is one way to help prevent another attack. No one should start, stop or modify an aspirin regimen without first speaking with their doctor. Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.
Manage your risk factors. After a heart attack, it’s important to manage risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes by taking medications as prescribed, quitting smoking, eating healthier and getting active.
Attend your follow-up appointments. Attending your follow-up appointments helps your doctors keep track of your condition and recovery. You can make the most of your time with your doctor by preparing a list of questions and concerns along with a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements. Bringing a trusted friend or family member may help as well.
Participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program. Cardiac rehabilitation is a medically supervised program designed to help you recover after a heart attack. You should have received a referral to cardiac rehab when you were discharged from the hospital; if you didn’t, ask your doctor if this program is right for you.
Get support. It’s normal to feel scared, overwhelmed or confused after a heart attack. Getting support from loved ones or people who have also experienced a heart attack can help you cope. Connect with other heart attack survivors and caregivers through local support groups or the American Heart Association’s free online Support Network.
Take Charge of Your Heart Health
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, but your lifestyle can be your best defense.
Stop smoking. If you smoke, quit. If someone in your household smokes, encourage him or her to quit. It may not be easy, but it’s even harder to live with chronic heart disease or recover from a heart attack.
Choose good nutrition. A healthy diet is one of the best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. Research shows eating 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day may lower blood pressure over time.
Lower cholesterol. Fat lodged in your arteries can trigger a heart attack or stroke. Reduce your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, and get moving. If diet and physical activity alone don’t get those numbers down, then medication may be the key.
Lower blood pressure. Shake that salt habit, take your medications as recommended by your doctor and get moving. An optimal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).
Be physically active. Research has shown that at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level.
Reduce stress. Some studies have noted a relationship between coronary heart disease risk and stress. This may affect the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For example, people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would.
Learn more about ways you can thrive after a heart attack at heart.org/oneisenough.
Content courtesy of the American Heart Association’s secondary prevention initiative.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
American Heart Association
If you’re among the millions of people in the United States who suffer from a chronic illness, you may use “sharps” to manage your medical condition at home or on the go. Consider this information about sharps and steps for safe and proper disposal.
Understanding Medical Sharps and Safe Disposal Options
(Family Features) If you’re among the millions of people in the United States who suffer from a chronic illness, you may use “sharps” to manage your medical condition at home or on the go. For example, many people with diabetes self-inject at least two insulin shots every day, and conditions including allergies, arthritis, cancer, infertility, migraines and psoriasis, among others, may also require the use of a sharp to administer medication.
A medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin, sharps may be used at home, at work and while traveling to manage medical conditions. Examples of sharps include:
However, disposing of those medical sharps safely may be a concern. In fact, in interviews conducted by SafeNeedleDisposal.org with sharps users, people who use needles and lancets to manage their medical conditions believe it is their responsibility to dispose of sharps safely, but lack clear, factual information on how to do so. Existing information does not always personalize disposal guidelines for people in every state or locality.
“SafeNeedleDisposal.org helps people in the United States make sense of safe sharps disposal options nearest to their home, work or wherever is convenient,” said Larry Ellingson, vice president of the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council. “This resource is much needed for people who regularly use needles to manage health conditions like diabetes and want to do the right thing with their used sharps.”
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sharps not disposed of properly may cause injury. Consider these three steps for safe and proper sharps disposal:
For more information on safe disposal of sharps, visit SafeNeedleDisposal.org.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
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