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.
How to Be an Effective Partner in Your IBD Care
(Family Features) A lifelong diagnosis like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may feel overwhelming and confusing, but by working closely with your health care providers, you can work toward managing the disease and improving your quality of life.
Consider these recommendations from the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation to partner with your health care team to manage your IBD.
Be Upfront About Your Symptoms
Being honest with your doctor about your symptoms is an important first step in your journey with your IBD diagnosis. Oftentimes, this starts by sharing exactly what you are experiencing on a daily or even weekly basis, such as frequency of bathroom visits, pain, blood in your stool or fatigue, so your health care team can gain a better understanding of how you are feeling. One way to help ensure you’re managing your diagnosis properly is to keep a journal, which offers a simple way to track if symptoms have improved or worsened since your last visit and help you remember questions that may arise. If you find it difficult to discuss certain topics, practice talking about these issues with a friend or family member before appointments and consider bringing a loved one to appointments for support.
Work with Your Health Care Team to Set Goals
Goals, or targets, will be different for every patient based on the type of disease, severity, progression and a variety of other factors. Finding the right IBD treatment can take time, so it’s important to balance your present priorities. Start by taking an honest approach to your personal preferences regarding medications. Consider if you have time in your schedule for lengthy infusions. Or perhaps you prefer administering self-injections. You may have short-term goals, such as attending a family wedding in two months, as well as long-term goals related to the future course of your disease, like reducing IBD inflammation and achieving remission, which is considered mucosal healing. This process is often called “treat-to-target” in the medical community and helps avoid complications and minimizes long-term disease risks as much as possible.
This goal-oriented approach to managing IBD is much like setting a target and trying to hit the bullseye. It can’t be done by your provider alone; you need to be an active partner in the goal-setting discussion. Providing clarity to your health care professionals regarding personal preferences and your short- and long-term goals like a desire to get pregnant, to travel, to decrease stress and anxiety, gain self-care skills or to return to school can keep the entire team on the same page.
Make Decisions Together by Acting as an Effective Partner
Asking questions is the first step toward creating an effective partnership with your health care team. You can start by seeking an understanding of which diagnostic tests are important for you to undergo. Decide together which steps should be taken now and which you should aim for in the future. Be willing to learn each part of the process, including treatment options, potential risks and benefits.
It may take some time before you see any progress made toward achieving your goal. Certain treatments may take some time to work. Review any external factors that may impact the effectiveness of your treatment. Talk to your doctor about adjusting treatments and consider changing your targets if available treatments are not helping you reach your goals.
In addition to medical treatments and procedures, patients should practice self-care and seek help from mental health professionals when necessary. IBD patients are at greater risk for anxiety and depression than the general public, according to research published in “Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics,” so it’s important to address these issues when they arise. Simple strategies to tackle IBD one day at a time include planning the night before for the day ahead, allowing yourself extra time in the morning and scheduling time in your day for rest. To relieve stress and anxiety, consider low-impact exercises, such as yoga, walking, biking or swimming, techniques like meditation and mindfulness or diaphragmatic breathing, also known as deep breathing or belly breathing. These complementary therapies can help improve your mental health and emotional well-being.
Along with your own self-care, it’s important to be willing to admit when you need help. For some, this may include reaching out to a mental health professional. A therapist, such as a clinical psychologist or licensed social worker can help you work through sadness, uncertainty and anxiety – emotions common for many patients with IBD. Visits may be short-term or can be longer, if needed. Effective therapy allows patients to practice the coping strategies learned between visits. Mental health therapists may also provide assignments to reinforce what is discussed during visits. Build your support system and seek guidance from mental health professionals if you ever feel as though the burden of your diagnosis is too heavy to carry alone.
A More Targeted Approach to IBD Care
In the past, health care providers managing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients focused on how their patients were feeling in the moment. They worked toward fixing active symptoms and tailored treatment plans specifically to address those symptoms.
Providers adopting the treat-to-target method are likely to work with their patients to consider the risk of developing complications in the future and tailor treatment recommendations based on the disease activity and severity, patient’s genetic makeup and anticipated risk.
It’s a more proactive approach than the traditional reactive treatment style as it emphasizes the importance of looking toward the future to avoid complications of the disease and minimize risks.
To achieve a patient’s goals, a provider regularly checks to make sure the patient is responding to the strategy at certain intervals. Both diagnostic and prognostic, or predictive, tests help physicians assess progress against a target. Common tests include endoscopic procedures, radiologic scans and diagnostic and predictive biomarkers.
If tests do not demonstrate sufficient improvement, additional evaluation or treatment adjustments may be advised to provide the right drug to the right patient at the right time for treatments tailored to the individual.
Goals depend on multiple factors and variables, but the anticipated outcome is an improved quality of life for patients managing IBD. Under the treat-to-target method, goals are a mutual decision between the doctor and patient. Goals must be measurable and include a realistic treatment plan.
Find more advice for effectively partnering with your physician to manage IBD at crohnscolitisfoundation.org.
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America
While some people read comic books to escape reality, illustrator J.G. Jones is using his artwork to illustrate his reality, and the reality of others like him who are living with a group of rare, chronic, progressive blood cancers known as myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs).
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.
Imagine how your life would change if you were unable to bring a cup to your mouth without spilling, if you couldn’t do the buttons on your clothes or even brush your teeth without difficulty. If you are one of the 7 million Americans living with essential tremor (ET), you already know what that’s like. Learn more by reading the full Medium article here.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss for people age 50 and older, and an estimated 16 million Americans are living with AMD. While an AMD diagnosis can be a scary thought, there are things people can do to help reduce the risk of progression of the disease. Here’s what you need to know.
(BPT) - The ability to see the people, places and things in front of you is one of life’s most precious gifts. Imagine a life without the ability to see these things clearly — what steps would you then take to protect your vision? Life with Age-related Macular Degeneration, or AMD, can potentially lead to vision loss or blindness. While an AMD diagnosis can be a scary thought, there are things people can do to help reduce the risk of progression of the disease. Here’s what you need to know.
What is AMD?
AMD is a leading cause of vision loss for people age 50 and older, and an estimated 16 million Americans are living with AMD. AMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that supports sharp, central vision needed for seeing objects clearly. The condition is progressive, which means that central vision can ultimately become impaired, which may cause difficulty keeping up with daily activities like driving, reading or recognizing the faces of loved ones. While there is no cure for AMD, there are steps patients can take to help reduce the risk of progression.
Tips for taking action
In addition, people diagnosed with AMD should talk to their doctor about taking a vitamin based on the AREDS2 study. PreserVision® AREDS 2 formula vitamins contain the exact nutrient formula recommended by the National Eye Institute to help reduce the risk of moderate to advanced AMD progression.
Get the facts and find support
Patients are often learning about AMD for the first time as they’re being diagnosed, which can be overwhelming. While the Internet is a great resource for patients, medical literature about AMD is often dense and difficult to follow. That’s why Bausch + Lomb developed SightMatters.com, an online resource to provide AMD patients with personalized tips and tools, along with a support system and network, to help each patient better navigate their life living with AMD no matter where they are on that journey.
SightMatters.com aims to help patients understand what AMD is, and how they can manage it. It also allows patients the opportunity to create a personalized action plan, which they can use to discuss with their doctor so they can start taking charge of their condition and continue to see what they love each day. Visit SightMatters.com to begin taking action today.
PreserVision is a trademark of Bausch & Lomb Incorporated or its affiliates.
AREDS2 is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
© 2020 Bausch & Lomb Incorporated or its affiliates.
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