Wellness Wednesday: Thinking F.A.S.T. can help save lives

Do you know how to recognize a stroke? Do you know what steps to take if someone is having a stroke? Thinking F.A.S.T. can help save lives and improve stroke recovery.

May-stroke1May is American Stroke Awareness Month. It is very important for you to know that anyone can have a stroke. Strokes can affect people of all ages and backgrounds.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. In 2008 alone, more than 133,000 Americans—or one person every four minutes—died from stroke, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Warning Signs

Most people don’t know the warning signs of stroke or what to do when one happens. Stroke is an emergency. But acting quickly can tremendously reduce the impact of stroke.

A stroke is a brain attack that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. Brain cells begin to die.

Recognizing stroke symptoms can be easy if you remember to think FAST:

F= Face  Drooping

Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

A= Arm Weakness

Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S= Speech Difficulty

Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T= Time to call 9-1-1

If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

Risk Factors

There are many risk factors for stroke. Some risk factors, such as gender, ethnicity and age, are uncontrollable. But there are some risk factors that you can control.

Some controllable risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Tobacco use
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity and obesity
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Illegal drug use

Taking control is the first step to managing your risk.iStock_000042882876_Medium

  • Get moving. If you are healthy, participate in moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise at least 40 minutes per day, three to four times per week.
  • Watch your diet. Consider reducing sodium intake to Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) or Mediterranean diets.
  • Know your numbers. Keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels in check.
  • Know your family medical history. If high blood pressure and diabetes are common conditions, it’s important you ask your doctor what you can do to prevent them.
  • Drink moderately. Studies show a strong connection between alcohol and stroke so make sure to moderate your alcohol intake. No more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.
  • Stop Smoking. Smoking decreases your health in general, but smokers also have 2-4 times the risk for stroke compared to nonsmokers and those who have quit for more than 10 years.

Source: American Stroke Association


More Information:

Let’s Talk About: Stroke, TIA and Warning Signs

Let’s Talk About: Hemorrhagic Stroke

Let’s Talk About: Risk Factors for Stroke

Let’s Talk About: High Blood Pressure and Stroke

Let’s Talk About: Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Stroke

Wellness Wednesday: Controlling Diabetes with Healthy Choices

What is diabetes?

nana_instagramNovember is American Diabetes Month. Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood. Diabetes can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

There are three main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes

In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin. This is a problem because you need insulin to take the sugar (glucose) from the foods you eat and turn it into energy for your body. People with Type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to live. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children or young adults.

Type 2 diabetes

In Type 2 diabetes, the body does not make or use insulin very well. You may need to take pills or insulin to help control your diabetes. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.

Gestational diabetes

Pregnant women sometimes get this type of diabetes. Most of the time, it goes away after the baby is born. But even if it goes away, these women and their children have a greater chance of getting diabetes later in life.

Complications of Diabetes

diabetesCardiovascular Disease

Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of various cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease with chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis). If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have heart disease or stroke.

Neuropathy

Excess sugar can injure the walls of the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) that nourish your nerves, especially in your legs. This can cause tingling, numbness, burning or pain that usually begins at the tips of the toes or fingers and gradually spreads upward. Left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling in the affected limbs.

Kidney Disease

The kidneys contain millions of tiny blood vessel clusters that filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage this delicate filtering system. Severe damage can lead to kidney failure or irreversible end-stage kidney disease, which may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Blindness and Eye Problems

Diabetes can damage the blood vessels of the retina (diabetic retinopathy), potentially leading to blindness. Diabetes also increases the risk of other serious vision conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.

Physical activity and diabetes

We know that physical activity and keeping a healthy weight is a good way to keep you heart healthy. But it can also help you take care of your diabetes and prevent diabetes complications. Physical activity helps your blood glucose stay in your target range. Even a 10 or 15 pound weight loss makes a difference in reducing the risk of diabetes problems.

Physical activity also helps the hormone insulin absorb glucose into all your body’s cells, including your muscles, for energy. Muscles use glucose better than fat does. Building and using muscle through physical activity can help prevent high blood glucose. If your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or if the insulin doesn’t work the way it should, the body’s cells won’t use glucose. This causes your blood glucose levels to get too high, causing diabetes.

What kinds of physical activity can help me?

Senior women exercising in the parkMany kinds of physical activity can help you take care of your diabetes. Even small amounts of physical activity can help. You can measure your physical activity level by how much effort you use.

Doctors suggest that you aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week. Children and adolescents with type 2 diabetes who are 10 to 17 years old should aim for 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day.

Your doctor can tell you more about what kind of physical activity is best for you. He or she can also tell you when and how much you can increase your physical activity level.

Light physical activity

American Diabetes Month

  • You are breathing normally
  • You are not sweating
  • You can talk normally or even sing

Moderate physical activity

  • You are breathing quickly, yet you’re not out of breath
  • You are lightly sweating after about 10 minutes of activity
  • You can talk normally, yet you can’t sing

Vigorous physical activity

  • You are breathing deeply and quickly
  • You are sweating after a few minutes of activity
  • You can’t talk normally without stopping for a breath

Not all physical activity has to take place at the same time. You might take a walk for 20 minutes, lift hand weights for 10 minutes, then walk up and down the stairs for 5 minutes.

DiabetesStats.jpg

How Can You Learn More about Diabetes?

  • Take classes to learn more about living with diabetes. Mercy Health System offers free diabetes classes regularly throughout the year. To find a class, go to the Events page of our website.
  • Join a support group—in-person or online—to get peer support with managing your diabetes. Mercy Health System also offers regular diabetes support groups, which are free and require no registration.
  • Read about diabetes online. Go to National Diabetes Education Program.

Sources: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, American Diabetes Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mayo Clinic.

Wellness Wednesday: It’s Healthy Aging Month

Chinese Grandparents Sitting With Grandchildren In ParkPeople in the U.S. are living longer than ever before. Many seniors live active and healthy lives. But there’s no getting around one thing: as we age, our bodies and minds change. There are things you can do to stay healthy and active as you age:

Eat a balanced diet

Studies show that a good diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart diseases and certain cancers. As you age, you might need less energy. But you still need just as many of the nutrients in food.

Keep your mind and body active

Exercise is perhaps the best demonstrated way to maintain good health, fitness, and independence. Research has shown that regular physical activity improves quality of life for older adults and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and many other illnesses and disabilities. In many ways, it is the best prescription we have for healthy, successful aging.

Don’t smoke

iStock_000018054489_LargeDo we really need to explain this one? Smoking is bad for you. So if you smoke, you should quit. There are many programs out there that can help you kick the habit. Visit the classes and events page on our website to join a free smoking cessation group, or ask your doctor for more information on ways to quit. Even if you’ve spent a lifetime smoking, you will benefit from stopping now.

Get regular checkups

Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. Which exams and screenings you need depends on your age, health and family history, and lifestyle choices such as what you eat, how active you are, and whether you smoke.

To make the most of your next check-up, here are some things to do before you go:

Practice safety habits to avoid accidents and prevent falls

A fall can change your life. If you’re elderly, it can lead to disability and a loss of independence. If your bones are fragile from osteoporosis, you could break a bone, often a hip. But aging alone doesn’t make people fall. Diabetes and heart disease affect balance. So do problems with circulation, thyroid or nervous systems. Some medicines make people dizzy. Eye problems or alcohol can be factors. Any of these things can make a fall more likely.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NIH: National Institute on Aging

Wellness Wednesday: Keeping Your Cholesterol in Check

SeniorsSeptember is National Cholesterol Education Month, a good time to get your blood cholesterol checked and take steps to lower it if it is high. More than 102 million American Adults have total cholesterol levels above healthy levels (at or above 200 mg/dL). More than 35 million of these people have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, which puts them at high risk for heart disease.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and in many foods. Your body needs cholesterol to function normally and makes all that you need. Too much cholesterol can build up in your arteries. After a while, these deposits narrow your arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke. Not all cholesterol is bad. Cholesterol is just one of the many substances created and used by our bodies to keep us healthy.

Total cholesterol is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood and is based on the HDL, LDL and triglycerides numbers.

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol

HDL cholesterol absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver, which flushes it from the body. HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because having high levels can reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke. Low HDL cholesterol puts you at higher risk for heart disease. People with high blood triglycerides usually also have lower HDL cholesterol. Genetic factors, type 2 diabetes, smoking, being overweight and being sedentary can all result in lower HDL cholesterol.

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol

LDL cholesterol makes up the majority of the body’s cholesterol. LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol because having high levels can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease and stroke. However, your LDL number should no longer be the main factor in guiding treatment to prevent heart attack and stroke, according to new guidelines from the American Heart Association. For patients taking statins, the guidelines say they no longer need to get LDL cholesterol levels down to a specific target number. A diet high in saturated and trans fats raises LDL cholesterol.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood that your body uses for energy. Normal triglyceride levels vary by age and sex. A high triglyceride level combined with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol is associated with atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits in artery walls that increases the risk for heart attack and stroke

How do you know if your cholesterol is high?

cholesterolHigh cholesterol usually doesn’t have any symptoms. As a result, many people do not know that their cholesterol levels are too high. However, doctors can do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol. High cholesterol can be controlled through lifestyle changes or if it is not enough, through medications.

It’s important to check your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends that adults aged 20 years or older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years.

Preventive guidelines for cholesterol screening among young adults differ, but experts agree on the need to screen young adults who have other risk factors for coronary heart disease: obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and family history

Conditions That Increase Risk for High Cholesterol

Diabetes mellitus increases the risk for high cholesterol. Your body needs glucose (sugar) for energy. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that helps move glucose from the food you eat to your body’s cells. If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin, can’t use its own insulin as well as it should, or both. So this causes sugars to build up in the blood.

Behaviors That Increase Your Risk for High Cholesterol

Unhealthy Diet: Diets high in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol have been linked to high cholesterol and related conditions, such as heart disease.

Physical Inactivity: Not getting enough physical activity can make you gain weight, which can lead to high cholesterol.

Obesity: Obesity is excess body fat. Obesity is linked to higher triglycerides and higher LDL cholesterol, and lower HDL cholesterol. In addition to high cholesterol, obesity can also lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Talk to your health care team about a plan to reduce your weight to a healthy level.

Family History Can Increase Risk for High Cholesterol

Portrait Of Extended Family Group In ParkWhen members of a family pass traits from one generation to another through genes, that process is called heredity.

Genetic factors likely play some role in high cholesterol, heart disease and other related conditions. However, it is also likely that people with a family history of high cholesterol share common environments and other potential factors that increase their risk.

If you have a family history of high cholesterol, you are more likely to have high cholesterol. You may need to get your cholesterol levels checked more often than people who do not have a family history of high cholesterol.

The risk for high cholesterol can increase even more when heredity combines with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as eating an unhealthy diet.

Some people have an inherited genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia. This condition causes very high LDL cholesterol levels beginning at a young age.

If you have high cholesterol, what can you do to lower it?

Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat your high cholesterol. In addition, you can lower your cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes:

  • Low-fat and high-fiber food (Eat more fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and whole grains).
  • For adults, getting at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week. For those aged 6-17, getting 1 hour or more of physical activity each day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke or quit if you smoke.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Heart Association


More Information:

Know the Facts About High Cholesterol [CDC Fact Sheet]

American Heart Association’s Cholesterol SmartHub

Wellness Wednesday: Controlling Risk and Thinking F.A.S.T. Can Help Prevent and Treat Stroke

May-stroke1May is American Stroke Awareness Month. It is very important for you to know that anyone can have a stroke. Strokes can affect people of all ages and backgrounds.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. In 2008 alone, more than 133,000 Americans—or one person every four minutes—died from stroke, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.

There are many risk factors for stroke. Some risk factors, such as gender, ethnicity and age, are uncontrollable. But there are some risk factors that you can control.

Some controllable risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Tobacco use
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity and obesity
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Illegal drug use

Taking control is the first step to managing your risk.

  • Get moving. If you are healthy, participate in moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise at least 40 minutes per day, three to four times per week.
  • Watch your diet. Consider reducing sodium intake to <2300 mg/day and consider diets rich in fruits and vegetables such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) or Mediterranean diets.
  • Know your numbers. Keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels in check.
  • Know your family medical history. If high blood pressure and diabetes are common conditions, it’s important you ask your doctor what you can do to prevent them.
  • Drink moderately. Studies show a strong connection between alcohol and stroke so make sure to moderate your alcohol intake. No more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.
  • Stop Smoking. Smoking decreases your health in general, but smokers also have 2-4 times the risk for stroke compared to nonsmokers and those who have quit for more than 10 years.

Warning Signs

iStock_000042882876_Medium

Most people don’t know the warning signs of stroke or what to do when one happens. Stroke is an emergency. But acting quickly can tremendously reduce the impact of stroke.

A stroke is a brain attack that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. Brain cells begin to die.

Recognizing stroke symptoms can be easy if you remember to think FAST:

F= Face  Drooping

Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

A= Arm Weakness

Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S= Speech Difficulty

Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T= Time to call 9-1-1

If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

Source: American Stroke Association


More Information:

Let’s Talk About: Stroke, TIA and Warning Signs

Let’s Talk About: Hemorrhagic Stroke

Let’s Talk About: Risk Factors for Stroke

Let’s Talk About: High Blood Pressure and Stroke

Let’s Talk About: Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Stroke

 

Wellness Wednesday: Walk Your Way to a Healthy Heart

OAM2015A nice, brisk walk can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running, according to a new study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division in Berkley, Calif. All three conditions are risk factors for heart disease and stroke — and you can do something about them.

Researchers analyzed 33,060 runners in the National Runners’ Health Study and 15,045 walkers in the National Walkers’ Health Study. They found that the same energy used for moderate- intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly coronary heart disease over the study’s six years. Read more about the study highlights.

The more people walked or ran each week, the more their health benefits increased.

The findings are consistent with the American Heart Association’s recommendations that adults should get 30 minutes of physical activity per day, at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week to derive benefits.

Just start walking

NWAL2016-DYK2You don’t have to set a marathon pace or walk for miles. You can start slow and start small. Maybe you start by walking around the block twice each night. You can work toward your overall goal of 30 minutes a day by increasing your time as you get in better shape. And if you’re busy—like most of us—you can split up your walks into 10-15 minutes each.

Have a dog? He’d be more than happy to join you for a walk. So maybe you take Fido on a 15-minute walk in the morning and one in the evening. (You could probably ‘try’ this with a cat too … though I wouldn’t recommend it.) You could also tap a friend of the human persuasion who can be your walking buddy. Pretty soon, you’ll be talking and walking and not even realize you’ve been ‘exercising’ for 30 minutes.

Too hot or too cold outside? Bad weather? Go to the mall. Take a couple of laps around each level of the mall. Then maybe afterwards you can treat yourself to that new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing!

All you have to do is lace up with a good pair of sneakers—and walk. It’s that easy. It’s also safe. And it’s the least expensive form of exercise (new shoes purchase notwithstanding); and it has the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise.

Before you know it, brisk walking can become a part of your daily routine. And you’ll reap plenty of benefits.

 

Wellness Wednesday: Beat Diabetes

whdTomorrow is World Health Day. Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) selects a priority area of global public health concern as the theme for World Health Day, which falls on April 7, the birthday of WHO. The theme for World Health Day 2016 is Beat Diabetes. Diabetes directly impacts millions of people globally.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.

In 2014, 9% of adults 18 years and older had diabetes. In 2012 diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths. More than 80% of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is characterized by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin. The cause of type 1 diabetes is not known and it is not preventable with current knowledge.

Symptoms include excessive excretion of urine (polyuria), thirst (polydipsia), constant hunger, weight loss, vision changes and fatigue. These symptoms may occur suddenly.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Type 2 diabetes comprises 90% of people with diabetes around the world, and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is hyperglycemia with blood glucose values above normal but below those diagnostic of diabetes, occurring during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and at delivery. They are also at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the future.

What are common consequences of diabetes?

Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

  • Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. In a multinational study, 50% of people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease (primarily heart disease and stroke.
  • Combined with reduced blood flow, neuropathy (nerve damage) in the feet increases the chance of foot ulcers, infection and eventual need for limb amputation.
  • Diabetic retinopathy is an important cause of blindness, and occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. One percent of global blindness can be attributed to diabetes.
  • Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure.
  • The overall risk of dying among people with diabetes is at least double the risk of their peers without diabetes.

How can the burden of diabetes be reduced?

Prevention

WHO-diabetesSimple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. To help prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications, people should:

  • Achieve and maintain healthy body weight;
  • Be physically active: at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control;
  • Eat a healthy diet of between 3 and 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and reduce sugar and saturated fats intake;
  • Avoid tobacco use: smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Diagnosis and treatment

Early diagnosis can be accomplished through relatively inexpensive blood testing. Treatment of diabetes involves lowering blood glucose and the levels of other known risk factors that damage blood vessels. Tobacco use cessation is also important to avoid complications.

Interventions that are both cost saving and feasible in developing countries include:
  • Moderate blood glucose control. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin; people with type 2 diabetes can be treated with oral medication, but may also require insulin;
  • Blood pressure control;
  • Foot care.
Other cost saving interventions include:
  • Screening and treatment for retinopathy (which causes blindness);
  • Blood lipid control (to regulate cholesterol levels);
  • Screening for early signs of diabetes-related kidney disease.

These measures should be supported by a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use.

WHO response

WHO aims to stimulate and support the adoption of effective measures for the surveillance, prevention and control of diabetes and its complications, particularly in low and middle-income countries. To this end, WHO:

  • Provides scientific guidelines for diabetes prevention;
  • Develops norms and standards for diabetes diagnosis and care;
  • Builds awareness on the global epidemic of diabetes; celebration of World Diabetes Day (14 November);
  • Conducts surveillance of diabetes and its risk factors.

The WHO Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health complements WHO’s diabetes work by focusing on population-wide approaches to promote healthy diet and regular physical activity, thereby reducing the growing global problem of overweight and obesity.

Source: World Health Organization