Stroke Warning Signs and Prevention

Stroke Warning Signs and Prevention

The bad news: Having a stroke is the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer in the United States.  It afflicts about 700,000 Americans per year and is also one of the leading causes of disability and dementia.

The good news: Strokes can be prevented. With good health, nutrition and daily exercise, the risk of stroke is much less.

Stroke Diagram

What is a stroke?

People experience a stroke when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted or severely limited, effectively cutting off oxygen to the brain. This can hamper, slow or even stop bodily functions such as movement, perception, speech and consciousness. A stroke is not to be confused with a heart attack, which is when the blood supply to the heart is reduced or cut off.

Symptoms of a stroke

It is important to recognize and respond to stroke symptoms as early as possible for a greater chance of survival. Here are the major stroke warning signs:

  • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness or paralysis in the face, arms or legs, especially on only one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion
  • Trouble speaking or understanding or losing the ability to read, write and speak
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble with coordination that includes dizziness and loss of balance
  • Sudden, severe headache lasting longer than normal.

A stroke usually comes on suddenly but can also occur over several hours. It is not always easy to recognize symptoms of a stroke – especially a small stroke.

Recognizing a Stroke

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

1. S - Ask the individual to SMILE.
2. T –
Ask the person to TALK, to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE.
(Coherently) (i.e. . . It is sunny out today.)
3. R –
Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with any one of these tasks or if there is any doubt, call 911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. Don’t take any chances.

Stroke prevention guidelines

There’s more good news: Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Although no one is immune, different risk factors can increase the chances of having one. These stroke prevention guidelines by the National Stroke Association Stroke Prevention Advisory Board will help you learn how to lessen your stroke risk. Talk to a healthcare professional and follow these guidelines:

Treat high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure is a major stroke risk factor if left untreated. Have your blood pressure checked yearly. If your blood pressure is high, take measures to lower it immediately following directions from your doctor. A healthy diet and daily exercise can help decrease high blood pressure levels.

Stop smoking. Smoking doubles the risk of stroke. It damages blood vessel walls, speeds up artery clogging, raises blood pressure and makes the heart work harder to pump blood to the brain and body.

If you have an increased risk of stroke due to high blood pressure or another medical condition, don’t take any chances. Wearing a medical ID bracelet or other identifier can help alert medical providers to your situation in the event of an emergency. A brief description of vital medical facts engraved on your medical ID ensures appropriate and timely medical care. Wearing a simple, stylish bracelet, necklace or even keychain from American Medical ID may help save your life. They also make the perfect gift for someone you care about!

The Pros and Cons of Bariatric Surgery

Before deciding to undergo any sort of medical procedure, it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits carefully with the aid of a licensed physician. Bariatric, or weight loss surgery, is no exception. Any elective surgery comes with its own pros and cons. weigh to determine need for bariatric surgeryAlthough weight loss surgery has the potential to change your life for the better, serious complications are always a possibility. Obesity-related health conditions are often reduced after losing weight, but surgery may not be the right step. Weigh your options before deciding that bariatric surgery is right for you.

The benefits:

  • Less than 2 percent of patients suffer from complications as a result of bariatric procedures.
  • Patients suffering from obesity-related disorders often see improvements within a three year span, if not sooner.
  • Improvements in cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes are related to weight loss.
  • In the case of hypertension in particular, patients can see vast improvements within 2-3 months after surgery.
  • Stress incontinence also responds dramatically to surgery.
  • Weight-related aches and pains can also be resolved through bariatric surgery.
  • Breathing disorders such as asthma and sleep apnea generally improve.
  • Over 90 percent of patients with Type II Diabetes see positive results, sometimes with the disorder going into remission. Borderline diabetics are even more likely to see a reversal in their symptoms.

The risks:

  • As with any surgery, the risk of bleeding is a factor, especially as the area of operation with bariatric surgery is close to the spleen, which is particularly fragile and prone to bleeding.
  • Patients with existing heart or lung conditions, or who are severely demobilized, are at greater risk of heart attack or lung failure during or after surgery.
  • Complications during surgery can result in prolonged hospital stays and more surgeries.
  • Patients who have a history of blood clots can be more prone to heart attack, pulmonary embolism, stroke or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) during surgery.
  • Infections can occur, affecting the initial wound or abdominal cavity. Abdominal infection in particular is quite serious. This can also result in prolonged hospital stays or additional operations.
  • Also, as with any surgery, death is a possibility. However, the percentage of patients who don’t survive surgery is at about 1 percent, with the most common causes being infection and pulmonary embolism resulting from blood clotting.

Before electing to have bariatric surgery, talk to your doctor or specialist about your condition. As an alternative to surgery, many obesity-related diseases can be controlled with medication. If you suffer from hypertension, diabetes, high blood pressure or even mobility issues, consider a proactive way to manage your health conditions.

Smoking Isn’t Cool Anymore – Find Out Why

The decline of smoking in America has leveled out, according to CNN Health. From 24.1 percent in 1998 to 19.8 percent in 2007, the decline was well underway, but in 2008 and 2009, the numbers remained relatively unchanged. smoking laws make smoking not coolBut the positive is that the percentage of American smokers in 1965 was more than 40 percent, much higher than in recent times. This successful decline was a result of endeavors like anti-smoking campaigns, tobacco product price increases and the simple fact that smoking became socially unacceptable.

In short, cigarettes just aren’t as cool as they used to be – which is a huge positive for American’s health. Many factors contributed to this downward trend. The first might have been in 1998 when the seven top tobacco companies were ordered to pay $206 billion to states as compensation for tobacco-related health care costs. That same year they were ordered to abandon their current marketing strategies, which towered over roads and highways on thousands of billboards. Point-of-purchase marketing tactics simply could not create the exposure the industry needed to continue its reign.

But lawmakers didn’t just stop there. In 2000, federal government officials announced that their goal was to decrease smoking to 19 percent of American adults, so they continued with their campaigns. In 2008, states raised sales tax on tobacco products and did so again in 2009. USAToday.com states that the average tax on cigarettes in the United States in $1.19 a pack. For a-pack-a-day smokers, this could break the bank or – as federal lawmakers predict – force them to quit.

For those unfazed by increased tobacco taxes, the FDA recently released 36 gruesome photos to be printed alongside the one-liners like “Smoking Kills” already on cigarette packs. If you think this is taking it too far, Canadians buy cigarette pack covers in order to avoid looking at the photos printed on the boxes. The U.S. is just catching up with the rest of the world.

Even pop culture and the alcohol industry have made efforts to reduce smoking. Magazines have replaced the cigarette in the model’s hand with another accessory. Almost all restaurants have converted their smoking section to just another non-smoking section, and even many bars have banned cigarettes to encourage the now more prominent non-smoker crowd to come in and have a drink.

Individuals have also taken it upon themselves to help the cause and have produced an overwhelming amount of anti-smoking campaigns. Perhaps the most well known are the “Truth” commercials. These national television ads expose, and even sometimes confront, prominent tobacco companies. One recent “Truth” ad pointed out the irony that despite the 2010 FDA ban on candy cigarettes, tobacco companies are still allowed to produce over 45 sweet flavors of real cigarettes. These ads usually mix humor with shock-value to get people’s attention.

Effects of smokingMany people are convinced that smoking is dangerous but still can’t seem to kick the habit. Fears of developing cancer, becoming infertile and contributing to osteoporosis aren’t enough to make some quit. Even smokers who have already developed certain health problems, such as heart disease, emphysema, stomach ulcers and even dental issues may worsen the effects by continuing to smoke.

A proactive approach to those who have already developed health complications is to invest in medical id jewelry. In the event of an emergency, a medical ID bracelet, dog tags or even keychain with your medical condition engraved on it could save emergency personnel ample time, so that you can get the care you need right away. IdentifyYourself.com carries a line of stylish, personalized medical alert jewelry that speaks for you when you can’t.

4 Tips to Improve Your Diet Today

According to the American Diabetes Association , more than 25 million Americans suffer from diabetes, and this epidemic continues to grow every year. Not only can diabetes alone cause complications, but it also contributes to other life-threatening issues like heart disease and stroke.
tips to improve your diet
Want to learn a good way to make sure you and your family don’t become a part of this statistic? Eat healthier. March is National Nutrition Month, so if losing weight was a New Year’s resolution that you haven’t gotten around to yet, now’s the perfect time.

1.Cut out the soda

Unfortunately, simply replacing it with the diet version doesn’t work. Although your calorie count may be less at the end of the day, the sugar substitute in diet sodas is just as harmful as high-fructose corn syrup. The insulin spike caused by the substitute sweetener blocks the breakdown of fats within the body. Also, switching from sweet to unsweet or green tea will also benefit you in the long run. Remember, it’s not just about the calories – it’s about the amount of added sweetener.

2.White to wheat

If you need to take baby steps in eating healthier, try a fancy whole grain bread like honey oat. When white bread is processed, two essential nutrient-rich parts are removed. Wheat bread, on the other hand, offers a large amount of fiber, vitamins B6 and E, magnesium, zinc, folic acid and chromium that white bread does not. According to the American Heart Association, switching from white to wheat can lower heart disease risk by 20 percent. Do this with your pastas, too!

3. Start with a salad

No,  you don’t need to go on an all-veggie diet. You can still enjoy your favorite meat dishes, but whip up a salad first. For each meal, eat a small salad as an appetizer. Keep it colorful with carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes. And to keep your taste buds interested, lightly drizzle on a low-fat dressing. If you start with a salad, you won’t eat as much at dinner and you’ll feel full quicker.

4. Practice portion control

At restaurants, ask for a to-go box right when your meal comes. Before you dig in, half the portion and put the rest in the take-home container. At home, invest in smaller plates and portion out your meals. If you place a smaller portion in front of you, the less you will consume. Just try to steer clear of the pantry a few hours after dinner!

These simple steps won’t change your daily routine much and you’ll benefit greatly in the long run. Not only can these changes help you lose weight, but lower cholesterol, increased energy and lower risks of life-threatening diseases are all benefits of eating healthier.

It’s not too late to make a difference in your health

These tips aren’t just for people looking to lose weight – controlling your diabetes is just as important, if not more. Nutrition management is an essential step to healthy aging. Also, taking extra precautions, such as exercising daily, sticking to your medication schedule and identifying yourself with medical alert jewelry, are just as essential.

 

Complications of Obesity – Stop It Before It Starts

Obesity rates in America have steadily increased over the past few decades. To combat this epidemic, people need to know the consequences of unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle.

According to WebMD, people with obesity are twice as likely to suffer a higher mortality rate than those of a healthy weight. Medical complications from obesity are common and include the following:

  • Type 2 diabetes reduces the body’s ability to regulate its blood sugar. The intake of sugars and starches is converted to glucose. Insulin in the body moves the glucose from blood to cells. If too much glucose is produced, it builds up in the blood, which causes Type 2 diabetes. Exercise and limiting your daily intake of sugars and starches significantly reduces your risk for developing diabetes.
  • Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America. Obesity leads to high blood pressure, which is a major factor in heart disease. Angina, or chest pain, is the most common indicator that you may have heart disease. Other symptoms include a faster heartbeat, shortness of breath and sweating. People with unhealthy excess weight can suffer from a heart attack or stroke without even realizing that they have heart disease. If you are overweight, it’s best to get tested for heart disease so that you can take preventative measures before it’s too late.

  • Cancer is now linked to obesity as well in some cases. In women, excess body fat increases the amount of estrogen in the body, which raises the risk of developing cancer in reproductive areas such as the cervix, breasts, ovaries and uterus. In men, prostate cancer becomes a risk when overweight. Obesity also can make it harder for medical personnel to find tumors of any kind, lessening the chance of catching cancer before it spreads.

  • Osteoarthritis develops in the joints when cartilage breaks down. This disease also causes bone spurs, cysts and small broken fragments of bone. Obesity puts an enormous amount of pressure on bones, especially the knees, causing unrepeatable damage.

  • Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing for a short time while asleep. Each episode can last from 10 seconds to a few minutes and can occur up to 30 times an hour. According to Dr. Michael D. Myers, M.D., 95 percent of people suffering from sleep apnea are obese. Obesity can also cause breathing problems during the day. Asthma is severely worsened by strained movements caused by being overweight. U.S. News.com reports that those with obesity face an increased risk of hospitalization for severe asthma attacks compared to those of a normal weight.

If you are overweight, taking precautions now can help stave off the onset of disease. Even losing just 10 or 20 pounds can improve your health significantly. Shedding even small amounts of weight can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, which in turn, reduces your chances of health complications and premature death.

Another thing to consider if you have already been diagnosed with any of these medical conditions is to invest in medical alert jewelry. These come in all shapes and sizes from stylish bracelets to dog tags that can be worn under your shirt. Your health information is engraved on the jewelry, so that in the event of an emergency, medical personnel will know almost immediately how you should be treated. This will save essential time in getting you the care you need. Order yours today and take a proactive step in your health.

New CPR Guidelines from the American Heart Association

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, was first demonstrated in 1954 by James Elam along with Dr. Peter Safar. Safar wrote a book called “ABC of Resuscitation” in 1957. Since then the standard method of CPR has been A-B-C, as in A for airway, B for breathing and C for compressions. This is the order for performing CPR. But recently the American Heart Association (AHA) has come out with a slight variation.

How to do CPR

The AHA suggests that the A-B-Cs of CPR be rearranged as C-A-B. In other words, the order of CPR should now be compressions first, then airway and breathing.  The new AHA guidelines apply to all forms of CPR, except when performed on newborns.

Why chest compressions first? As a result of sanitary concerns some people hesitate to start with clearing the airway or performing mouth-to-mouth. Dr. Michael Sayre of the American Heart Association asserts that chest compressions alone “can be lifesaving” to many victims.

When you are performing CPR, the goal is to continue the circulation of blood. Under the original approach, there was a delay in starting the chest compressions. Those extra minutes can be critical to saving a person’s life. Dr. Sayre adds that other CPR procedures such as mouth-to-mouth are difficult to perform correctly if you are not trained.

Chest compressions are generally easy to do and you can normally be performed on a person without doing any harm. Most of the time a reserve of oxygen is left in a person’s lungs and blood following the last breath. Chest compressions performed immediately reduce the risk of a lack of oxygen flow.

The new CPR procedure is:

  • Call 9-1-1.
  • Roll victim on his or her back – check for medical ID jewelry for possible medical condition.
  • Begin chest compressions – place the heel of your hand in the center of the victim’s chest. Place your other hand on top of the other one. Your fingers should be interlocked.
  • The chest should be compressed about 2 inches for adults and children and 1 1/2 inches for infants. 100 compressions every minute is the suggested rate. Counting from 1-100 can help you keep the rhythm.

Many organizations offer CPR training and certification courses. Taking precautions such as wearing medical ID jewelry can help medical workers and even those performing CPR be aware of any medical conditions in situations where you can’t speak for yourself.

5 Superfoods that Promote Heart Health

If you’ve recently switched to a healthier diet, you might be surprised to learn that even some healthy foods are better than others. Select fruits, wines and fish, known as “superfoods,” help to promote heart health with extra benefits such as antioxidants and omega-3’s.

1. Red Wine

Red Wine_72In addition to being a relaxing and tasty beverage, red wine has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol – that’s the good kind. This form of cholesterol is essential in fighting the formation of blood clots. Rich in powerful antioxidants, red wine provides cardiovascular benefits as well. Moderation is key – a glass a day is sufficient to boost your heart’s health.

2. Blueberries

BlueberriesOne of America’s favorite fruits, blueberries have long been a staple of a healthy diet. While researchers initially advised against eating blueberries on account of the fruit’s low Vitamin C content, they have recently discovered that these tiny berries are rich in phytonutrients. Phytonutrients give the body an energy boost and have been shown to fight the formation of cancer cells.

3. Tuna

TunaIn addition to being one of the most affordable varieties of fish on the market, tuna is ripe with powerful omega-3 fatty acids. Also called EFA’s, these fatty acids are shown to reduce LDL cholesterol – the bad kind, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease. Add in the numerous benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, like increased brain function and better skin, and there’s no reason not to enjoy some tuna every now and then.

4. Salmon

Salmon FilletThink of salmon as the “high end” alternative to tuna. Priced a little higher, salmon contains the same omega-3 fatty acids and carries with it the same health benefits. As an added perk, the recipes for salmon are a bit more diverse and salmon has a flavor many people love.

5. Cherries

Cherry TartWhile blueberries are notoriously low in Vitamin C, cherries have a great deal of this essential vitamin that helps to fight off disease by boosting the immune system. The antioxidants found in cherries help to prevent cancer, increase heart health and reduce aches and pains. They’re also rich in melatonin, which is essential in regulating the body’s internal clock.

Taking a proactive approach to health

All of these foods, when enjoyed in moderation, help to promote heart health and reduce the risk of cancer, dangerous blood clots, diabetes and more. If you have already been diagnosed with any of these medical conditions, these foods can also reduce symptoms, allowing you to have a better quality of life.

 

Diabetes Alert Day – Find Out More

Diabetes is a modern epidemic. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), over 20 million Americans suffer from diabetes. The ADA classifies diabetes as “a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin.” This can lead to complications such as high blood pressure, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, nerve damage (pain and numbness), kidney failure, amputation, and vision problems or even blindness.

To raise awareness of this growing trend, the ADA has designated March 22, 2011 as Diabetes Alert Day. This is a chance for people to determine their risk for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes by taking the online Diabetes Risk Test and learning more about the disease to take a proactive step to good health.

Join the Millions in the fight to Stop Diabetes

By asking questions about weight, age, family history, exercise and other lifestyle factors, the Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test can predict a person’s risk of the disease in terms of low, moderate or high. This is important because the good news is that diabetes can be prevented or even held in check. Taking precautions is also important; eating healthy and getting daily exercise is key.

Diabetes Alert Day also kicks off the ADA “Million Challenge,” which runs through April 22, 2011. During this time, the ADA will rally with a goal of getting at least one million people to take the Diabetes Risk Test. The test is available year round.

You can get your FREE Diabetes Risk Test (English or Spanish) by:

  • Visiting StopDiabetes.com to take the test.
  • Calling 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2382).
  • Texting JOIN 69866 (Standard data and message rates apply).
  • For more information visit the ADA website at www.diabetes.org.

If you already suffer from diabetes or related complications, consider wearing a medical ID bracelet. In the event of an emergency, medical providers are trained to look for a medical ID bracelet to provide prompt and accurate treatment. You don’t have to worry about wearing a clunky, unattractive medical ID bracelet – American Medical ID carries a line of personalized and stylish jewelry that speaks for you when you can’t.

Diabetes is a modern epidemic. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), over 20 million Americans suffer from diabetes. The ADA classifies diabetes as “a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin.” This can lead to complications such as high blood pressure, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, nerve damage (pain and numbness), kidney failure, amputation, and vision problems or even blindness.

To raise awareness of this growing trend, the ADA has designated March 22, 2011 as Diabetes Alert Day. This is a chance for people to determine their risk for pre-diabetes by taking the online Diabetes Risk Test and learning more about the disease to take a proactive step to good health.

By asking questions about weight, age, family history, exercise and other lifestyle factors, the Diabetes Risk Test can predict a person’s risk of the disease in terms of low, moderate or high. This is important because the good news is that diabetes can be prevented or even held in check. Taking precautions is also important; eating healthy and getting daily exercise is key.

Diabetes Alert Day also kicks off the ADA “Million Challenge,” which runs through April 22, 2011. During this time, the ADA will rally with a goal of getting at least one million people to take the Diabetes Risk Test. The test is available year round.

You can get your FREE Diabetes Risk Test (English or Spanish) by:

Visiting StopDiabetes.com to take the test.

Calling 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2382).

Texting JOIN 69866 (Standard data and message rates apply).

For more information visit the ADA website at www.diabetes.org.

If you already suffer from diabetes or related complications, consider wearing a medical ID bracelet. In the event of an emergency, medical providers are trained to look for a medical ID bracelet to provide prompt and accurate treatment. You don’t have to worry about wearing a clunky, unattractive medical ID bracelet – American Medical ID carries a line of personalized and stylish jewelry that speaks for you when you can’t.

Keep Your Special Needs Child Safe with a Medical ID Bracelet

When parents are confronted with the reality that their child has a medical condition, such as early-onset diabetes or autism, often the first reaction is to worry. Some may wonder how their child can live a normal life away from the safety of home. With a kid’s medical ID bracelet, it’s possible for your little one to experience life and stay safe in the event of an emergency.kids id bracelet

A child medical ID bracelet simply holds the key to understanding your child’s condition, should anything go wrong during their many adventures. A friend, parent or medical professional can read the information on the bracelet and immediately know the best course of action if an emergency arises. A child medical ID bracelet also gives you peace of mind when you can’t be with your child; you won’t have to worry that people will not understand his or her needs.

In addition to giving your child the ability to participate in the world around them with minimal worry, there are many summer camps and programs that cater to children with special needs. These programs help children bond with others who are like them, and it helps them to understand that they are not “abnormal” because of their special condition.

Your child has a vast array of options for safe playing, learning and growing — more than any generation of special needs children before them. Some precautions, a child medical ID bracelet, for example, as well as some unique social settings and heaping doses of love, can help them (and you) get much enjoyment out of life.

American Medical ID bracelets come in a wide variety of styles, so it’s a great way for kids and parents to talk about their needs, their preferences and (maybe most importantly) their personal style.

The 5 Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

5 signs of alzheimersOne of the most frightening diseases to plague our aging population is Alzheimer’s disease. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, advances in science and medicine can help slow the onset of symptoms. Learning to detect initial signs of the disease is essential for getting treatment in the early stages. There are 5 essential things to look for if you suspect that someone you know may be developing Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Confusion

As we age, it’s true that many of us occasionally forget things now and then. However, people suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease become suddenly confused for no reason, forgetting momentarily where they are or what they were doing.

2. Memory loss

Similar to confusion, but a bit more serious, memory loss can have adverse effects on daily life. This can include forgetting to take medication, forgetting important dates like birthdays and anniversaries or not remembering names. This symptom of Alzheimer’s disease worsens over time.

3. Difficulty writing or speaking

You might notice, over time, that a loved one who may be suffering from this disease will occasionally lack the words to communicate. Alzheimer’s is known to have an adverse effect on a patient’s ability to put words into writing or speech. Also, penmanship may suffer as the disease progresses.

4. Personality changes

Alzheimer’s isn’t just about forgetting memories or words – this disease can result in drastic personality changes. The early may bring about loud outbursts of anger, happiness or sadness. Some people may experience anxiety or paranoia.

5. Poor judgment

As Alzheimer’s progresses, some patients make poor decisions and start doing things that are uncharacteristic or even dangerous. They will no longer know when enough is enough, and they may spend excessive amounts of money, start trusting anyone who knocks on their door and be easily influenced by others.

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