Mental Health Month – Why a medical ID is important for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementia

Mental Health Month – Why a medical ID is important for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementia

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May is Mental Health Month

Since 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May by reaching millions of people in the United States through the media, local events, and screenings.  The purpose of Mental Health Month  is to raise awareness about mental illnesses, and to educate communities about psychological disorders, while reducing the stigma that surrounds them.  While Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia are not typically the first things that come to mind while discussing Mental Health Month, they are very much a part of it.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in older people.  A dementia is a medical condition that disrupts the way the brain works.  AD affects the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language.  Although the risk of getting the disease increases with age, it is not a normal part of aging.  At present the cause of the disease is unknown and there is no cure.

AD is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist.  In 1906, Dr. Alzheimer described changes in the brain tissue of a woman who had died of an unusual mental illness.  He found abnormal deposits (now called senile or neuritic plaques) and tangled bundles of nerve fibers (now called neurofibrillary tangles).  These plaques and tangles in the brain have come to be characteristic brain changes due to AD.

Symptoms Include:

  • Initial mild forgetfulness
  • Confusion with names and simple mathematical problems
  • Forgetfulness to do simple everyday tasks, i.e., brushing their teeth
  • Problems speaking, understanding, reading and writing
  • Behavioral and personality changes
  • Aggressive, anxious, or aimless behavior

Statistics

It is estimated that currently 4 million people in the United States may have Alzheimer’s disease.  The disease usually begins after age 65 and risk of AD goes up with age.  While younger people may have AD, it is much less common.  About 3% of men and women ages 65-74 have AD and nearly half of those over age 85 could have the disease.

Why is a Medical ID important for those with Alzheimer’s Disease or Other Dementia?

Six in 10 people with dementia will wander.  Anyone who has memory problems and is able to walk is at risk for wandering.  Even in the early stages of dementia, a person can become disoriented or confused for a period of time.   Coupled with memory loss and confusion, wandering puts people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia at higher risk of getting lost or injured.  Individuals with dementia who wander are also at higher risk of accidental death, likely due to the lack of recognition of harmful situations and delays in seeking medical attention.  A person with Alzheimer’s may not even remember his or her name or address.  It’s important to plan ahead for this type of situation.  A medical ID bracelet can provide succinct information about individuals with dementia if they become lost or injured.

Prepare yourself or your loved one by having a medical ID bracelet that will let the first responders and medical staff know who to call and how to make the  appropriate medical decisions that can save a life.  A medical ID can make a huge difference during an emergency situation or wandering event.

Sources: Mental Health America, Alzheimer’s Association

Mental Health Month – What is its purpose?

MHM2014 Mind Your Health FB Cover Photo 2

May is Mental Health Month

Since 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May by reaching millions of people in the United States through the media, local events, and screenings.   Mental Health America launched Mental Health Week, which eventually became May is Mental Health Month.  The association hopes to inform United States citizens of the connection between the mind and body; and intends to provide advice, tips and strategies that will encourage people to take positive actions and protective measures for one’s own mental health, and whole body health. The theme for the 2014 Mental Health Awareness month is “Mind Your Health.” The focus of this year’s theme is to create a motivational effort that will put toward the goal of building public recognition in regards to the importance of mental health and to the overall health and wellness of those around us.      

The purpose of Mental Health Month  is to raise awareness about mental illnesses, such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. It also aims to draw attention to suicide, which can be precipitated by some mental illnesses. Mental Health Awareness Month also aims to educate communities about psychological disorders, while reducing the stigma that surrounds them. The month came about by presidential proclamation, which can be read by clicking here.

What is mental illness?

A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder.  The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.

What can you do?

Take a quick screening.  Mental Health America has online screenings for 4 common conditions.  Taking a screening test is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.

Did you know that…

  • About 1 in 5 American adults will have a mental health condition in any given year?
  • But only 41 percent of them will receive services?
  • About 10 percent of the American adult population will have a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar?
  • And 18 percent have an anxiety disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder?

Mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, are real, common and treatable. And recovery is possible. But not all of us think about our mental health enough.

If you’ve had trouble sleeping lately, if you’ve been experiencing racing thoughts, or if you’re just curious – the screens below can help you understand more about your mental health. Take all four and discuss the results with a provider.

If you’d like to take a screening, simply click on the condition below or visit the Mental Health America website by clicking here.

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. Bipolar
  4. PTSD

Help spread the word that May is Mental Health Month.  

  • If you’re a blogger, blog about it!
  • Use #mhmonth2014 on your Twitter or Facebook posts
  • Follow Mental Health America on Twitter, or become a fan on Facebook– Twitter handle: @mentalhealtham or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/mentalhealthamerica
  • Share or retweet posts from Mental Health America
  • Use the links below to download an image for your Facebook cover photo:

Option 1: Family in the Park,

Option 2: Lunch with Friends,

Option 3: Working Out on the Beach

 

For more information on Mental Health Month and about mental health in general, visit Mental Health America.  Mental Health America, founded in 1909, is the nation’s leading community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives.

Sources: Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Wikipedia

 

Memorial Day – Remembering the men and women of the armed forces who gave their lives for our country

Memorial Day is Monday, May 26th

Arlington National Cemetery with flags placed for Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a US federal holiday set aside to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the final Monday of May,  was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.  By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.  It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.   Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

Memorial Day Traditions

On Memorial Day, the US flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

For many Americans, the central event is attending one of the thousands of parades held on Memorial Day in large and small cities all over the country. Most of these feature marching bands and an overall military theme with the National Guard and other servicemen participating along with veterans and military vehicles from various wars.

Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. On a less somber note, many people throw parties and barbecues on the holiday, perhaps because it unofficially marks the beginning of summer.

Ways You Can Observe Memorial Day

Often we do not observe Memorial Day as it should be, a day where we actively remember our ancestors, our family members, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice.  Here are a few ways you can honor and remember those who gave their lives for our country:

  • Fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.
  • Visit War Memorials.
  • Visit local cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.
  • Participate in the “National Moment of Remembrance” at 3 p.m.

Did you know veterans can obtain free medical IDs?

Anyone with food or drug allergies, diabetes, seizure disorders, metal fragments in the body, or most chronic conditions should wear a medical ID.  American Medical ID has obtained a contract with the Federal Supply Schedule to make customized medical IDs available to veterans.  Any veteran who needs a medical ID can get one free of charge through their local VA clinic. All they need to do is provide their VA doctor with this link: www.IdentifyYourself.com/VA.   We provide a variety of products in different styles and colors as shown below.

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Click here for more information on the American Medical ID VA program.

Sources: WikipediaUS Department of Veterans AffairsHistory.com

Summer Travel Preparation – Ten Tips for Safer Summer Vacations

10 tipsSummer is just around the corner and many of you are in the planning stages of your summer vacations.  Staying safe and healthy during your vacation makes all the difference as to whether or not it’s a vacation you’ll enjoy.  Taking a few precautions in advance to adequately pack for minor emergencies and carefully planning activities will go a long way toward making this vacation memorable for all of the right reasons.  With this in mind, whether you’re traveling by land or by air, near or far, here are 10 tips for a safer summer vacation.

Traveling by Car

1.  Prepare your vehicle

  • Check the tires, including the spare – proper inflation and good tread can save money, time and lives.
  • Inspect the engine, battery, hoses, belts and fluids for wear and proper levels.  Check the A/C.
  • Do a “once around” – test all the lights, wipers and clean the windows (inside and out)
  • If you’re not sure of what to do, consider a quick inspection by a qualified technician.  A few dollars up front can mean peace of mind and safe arrivals, as well as no costly on-the-road repairs and trip interruptions.
  • Prepare an Emergency Roadside Kit, including jumper cables, a flashlight and plenty of bottled water.

2. Buckle up drivers and passengers

  • Parents, grandparents and caregivers, need to use the correct seat for young passengers and be sure the seat is installed properly. Keep infants, toddlers and older children in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
  • Remember that long trips can be particularly tough on your kids, especially in the heat – pack plenty of snacks and cold drinks for the road (consider freezing juice boxes or water bottles overnight).
  • Use books, toys, DVDs and video games to keep children occupied and the driver focused.
  • Keep children 12 and under in the back seat – it’s the safest place.
  • Stopping along the drive gives everyone a chance to stretch and makes the trip easier.  If you have a fussy baby, do not take them out of their car seat while driving to soothe or provide a bottle.  If your child needs that level of attention, pull over in a safe place, such as a rest stop.
  • Older children need to ride in a booster seat from about age four until a seat belt fits them correctly. 

Traveling by Air

3.  Buckle up in the plane, too.

  • Always travel with your child’s car seat — you will need it to and from the airport.
  • Whenever possible, purchase a ticket for your child and keep him or her restrained properly in a certified, aircraft-approved, installed car seat.
  • Children who have outgrown car seats should sit directly in the aircraft seat with the lap belt across their thighs or hips.

4. Avoid ear pain and motion sickness.

  • Pack gum in your carry on luggage or purse.  Children are more common in experience ear pain than adults in changes of pressure. To minimize this, infants should bottle or breast feed where older children can chew gum, swallow, or yawn.
  • Consider packing an over-the-counter medication for motion sickness such as meclizine (Bonine, Antivert, Dramamine). It can be a very effective preventive measure for short trips or for mild cases of motion sickness. If you or someone travelling with you has symptoms of motion sickness, eating a few crackers and sipping on a clear carbonated drink like ginger ale or 7 up may help.  Closing their eyes may help, too.

 All Travel

 5.  Stay protected from sunburn.  

  • Pack sunscreen/sunblock with at least SPF 30.  Be sure to use it as directed and re-apply often.
  • If possible, avoid being outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., if possible.
  • Wear a hat that protects as much of your face and head as possible.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • If you are taking medication, check with your doctor to see if you need to take extra precautions

6.  Avoid heat exhaustion.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Carry bottled water with you everywhere to make sure you are drinking enough.
  •  If you’re unsure of the water safety, don’t drink the local water.  Only drink bottled water.
  • Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar because these can dehydrate you further.
  • If you’re vacationing in temperatures above 90 degrees, stay indoors in the air conditioning, if possible.
  • Wear light weight clothing and dress in layers.

7.   Protect yourself from insect bites

  • The most active times for mosquitoes is during dawn and dusk. Use insect repellents or stay inside during those hours.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to help protect skin from bites, and check areas for insect nests and hives to avoid them.
  • If  you’ve been bitten and the bite looks unusual, seek medical attention at once. If you can take a photo with your smartphone or keep the insect specimen, it will be helpful for the healthcare provider to identify what type of bites and what treatments to give to the patient.

8.  Stay safe in the water.

  • Never leave your child alone in or near the pool, river, lake or ocean.
  • Don’t allow toddlers to swim without a life vest or swimming aids.
  • Look up emergency medical and/or rescue contact numbers in advance of your trip and store them in your cell phone contacts.  A few minutes saved in an emergency can make a huge difference.
  • Whenever possible, swim where lifeguards are on duty. 

9.  Pack an emergency first-aid kit.  One that is well stocked is always great to have around whether at home, in the car, or carry along on a plane.  Here are some important items to include:

  • Disinfecting wipes, bandages, antibiotic get
  • Sunblock spray and/or cream
  • Children’s pain relievers, antihistamines
  • Tweezers
  • Index cards with important information: insurance, pediatrician’s phone number, urgent care, etc.

 10.   Pack prescription medications and wear your medical ID.

  • When packing for a travel,  always consider the storage and safety of all medications, if prescribed, and the storage and safety of breast milk, baby formula, etc.
  • Never leave home without your medical ID.   If necessary, pack an extra bracelet during special trips, particularly if you will be travelling alone or leaving town for an extended period. Always wear the bracelet where it can be spotted easily and avoid taking it off.  Just remember, every minute counts in an emergency, and knowing your condition and medication makes diagnosis and assessment more accurate and timely.

Sources: California Office of Traffic Safety, CommonHealth Virginia, Yahoo! Voices

May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month

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May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month

In honor of National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, people all across the country will spread awareness about the disease and encourage others to support the mission to find a cure this May.

Approximately 30,000 Americans have cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that affects the lungs and pancreas, and more than 10 million Americans are symptomless carriers of the defective CF gene.

“We have made real progress in the search for a cure, but we still lose precious lives to this disease every day,” said CF Foundation president and CEO, Robert J. Beall, Ph.D.  “That’s why it’s so important for everyone who cares to step forward and join us in the fight against CF this month – and all year round.” 

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the world’s leader in the search for a cure, and funds more CF research than any other organization. Virtually every CF drug available today was made possible because of the Foundation’s support and its ongoing work with researchers and the pharmaceutical industry to find a cure.

What is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system.  About 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.  In people with CF, a defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that:

  • Clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections.
  • Obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down food and absorb vital nutrients. 

In the 1950s, few children with CF lived to attend elementary school. Since then, tremendous progress in understanding and treating CF has led to dramatic improvements in the length and quality of life for those with CF.  Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.

People with CF can have a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Very salty-tasting skin
  • Persistent coughing, at times with phlegm
  • Frequent lung infections
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Poor growth and slow weight gain, in spite of a good appetite
  • Frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty in bowel movements

Currently, there is no cure for cystic fibrosis. However, specialized medical care, aggressive drug treatments and therapies, along with proper nutrition, can significantly lengthen and improve the quality of life for those with cystic fibrosis.

How You Can Help

  • Volunteer – Contact your local Cystic Fibrosis Foundation chapter to find out the many ways you can volunteer.  Click here to find a chapter near you.
  • Raise Awareness – Learn about cystic fibrosis and spread awareness (social media is a great place to start).
  • Walk - Great Strides is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s largest national fundraising event. Each year, more than 125,000 people participate in hundreds of walks across the country to help fight CF.  Great Strides provides a fantastic opportunity for family, friends, students, co-workers and colleagues to come together in support of a worthy cause.
  • Participate in CF Cycle for Life, CF Climb, or Xtreme Hike.  Click here for more information on these events and other ways you can help.

Why Should Those with Cystic Fibrosis Wear a Medical ID?

If you have cystic fibrosisyou should wear a medical ID at all times.  Symptoms of CF can easily be misdiagnosed. Prompt diagnosis is critical to effective treatment.

People with cystic fibrosis can suffer a variety of complications, such as chronic respiratory failure, diabetes, intestinal obstructions, rectal prolapses, diabetes, gallstones, pancreatitis, malnutrition, sinusitis, pneumonia, and many more.   Also, those with cystic fibrosis likely take many medications, which emergency personnel need to be aware of.  If you need medical attention and are unable to speak for yourself in an emergency, a medical ID will alert the emergency medical personnel to your condition.

Some hospitals recommend a necklace rather than bracelet because most of the time quick trips to the emergency room for those with cystic fibrosis are lung related and xrays will need to be taken.  A medical ID necklace would be noticed as it has to be removed for xrays.

 

Source: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Saturday, May 17th, is Armed Forces Day

ArmedForcesPOSTERproofFINAL_3613In the United States, Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May, falling on May 17th this year.  Armed Forces Week begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May, the day after Armed Forces Day. Because of their unique training schedules, National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week over any period in May.

First observed on 20 May 1950, the day was created on 31 August 1949, to honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches – theU.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard – following the consolidation of the military services in the U.S. Department of Defense. It was intended to replace the separate Army-, Navy-, Air Force-, Marine Corps- and Coast Guard Days, but the separate days are still observed, especially within the respective services.

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions and air shows. The United States’ longest running city-sponsored Armed Forces Day Parade is held in downtown Bremerton, Washington, with this being the 66th year of the event.

Did you know veterans can obtain free medical IDs?

Anyone with food or drug allergies, diabetes, seizure disorders, metal fragments in the body, or most chronic conditions should wear a medical ID.  American Medical ID has obtained a contract with the Federal Supply Schedule to make customized medical IDs available to veterans.  Any veteran who needs a medical ID can get one free of charge through their local VA clinic. All they need to do is provide their VA doctor with this link: www.IdentifyYourself.com/VA.   We provide a variety of products in different styles and colors as shown below.

vets

Click here for more information on the American Medical ID VA program.

Sources: U.S. Department of DefenseAbout.com, Wikipedia

May is Celiac Awareness Month: What is it?

cealiacawernessCeliac Awareness Month 2014 begins on Thursday, May 1st,  and is supported by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (and other relevant organizations). This event raises awareness about celiac disease, and highlights the work of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) which provides support for those affected. The NFCA, in collaboration with scientists and other organizations, also supports research into celiac disease.

What Is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.  2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.

Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.

Long Term Health Effects

Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems. These include the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, and intestinal cancers.

Treatment

Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. People living gluten-free must avoid foods with wheat, rye and barley, such as bread and beer. Ingesting small amounts of gluten, like crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can trigger small intestine damage.

Undiagnosed or Untreated Celiac Disease Can Lead to Other Long-term Health Conditions:

  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Early onset osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • Infertility and miscarriage
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Central and peripheral nervous system disorders
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Intestinal lymphomas and other GI cancers (malignancies)
  • Gall bladder malfunction
  • Neurological manifestations, including ataxia, epileptic seizures, dementia, migraine, neuropathy, myopathy and multifocal leucoencephalopathy
  • Other autoimmune disorders

Why is it Important for Those with Celiac Disease to Wear a Medical ID?

There’s been a long-standing debate among among adults with celiac disease of the necessity of wearing a medical ID bracelet. A number of consider it a non-life threatening situation and therefore write off the notion of wearing a medical ID, while others would never do without it.  For many, the decision will depend on the degree of the gluten intolerance.

However, adults with celiac disease should wear a medical ID at all times.  For them, eating gluten can result in some hours or days of stomach distress. Every episode catapults them one step closer to the other health conditions  noted above.

In prescription and over-the-counter medicines, fillers (also called “inactive ingredients” or “excipients”) are added to the active drug. Fillers provide shape and bulk for tablets and capsules, aid in water absorption (helping the tablet to disintegrate), and serve other purposes as well.  Fillers can be derived from any starch source, including corn, potatoes, tapioca and wheat.

Unfortunately, very few medications are labeled as gluten-free.  Inactive ingredients may be listed on the box or the package insert, but it is difficult if not impossible (even for pharmacists) to tell if these are derived from gluten.

If a celiac is an accident or else unable to converse for themselves, a medical ID bracelet can ensure a medical emergency isn’t further complicated by being subjected to, ingesting, or becoming injected intravenously using unnecessary gluten.

Children  with celiac disease should wear a medical ID bracelet at all times.  There are reasons other than medical emergencies when an ID would be helpful.  For example, your preschool aged child with celiac would not likely be able to let the teacher know that he/she cannot have wheat or gluten.  Yes, the teacher should already know, but there may be parents or other teachers substituting who might not be aware.  A celiac bracelet would make it perfectly clear.  Also, your older child may find themselves in a situation where they go to a friend’s home and are offered snacks.  Some adults may not take a child seriously when he/she says that they cannot have gluten, but showing the medical ID bracelet would avoid any second-guessing.

Sources: Celiac Disease Foundation, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, About.com: Celiac Disease & Gluten Sensitivity

 

May is High Blood Pressure Education Month: Why do you need a medical ID if you are taking blood pressure medications?

HPBMay is National High Blood Pressure Education Month.  Sponsored by the CDC, National High Blood Pressure Education Month raises awareness about the impact high blood pressure can have on health.

One of three American adults has high blood pressure, also called hypertension. That’s 67 million people who have to work to keep their blood pressure in check each day. Unfortunately, more than half of people with high blood pressure do not have their condition under control.

May is High Blood Pressure Education Month, and it’s a good time to find out how to “make control your goal.”

Possible Complications of High Blood Pressure

Having the highest score is good in many things, but not with blood pressure—the higher your numbers, the more serious the condition.

You may not have any symptoms of high blood pressure, but it can damage your health in many ways. For instance, it can harden the arteries, decreasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart and brain. This reduced flow can cause—

  • A heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle cells die from a lack of oxygen.
  • A stroke, which can occur when arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain become blocked or burst.
  • Chest pain, also called angina.
  • Heart failure, which occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood and oxygen to other organs.

How to Control High Blood Pressure

Of the 67 million American adults who have high blood pressure, 16 million know that they have the condition and are getting treatment, but their blood pressure still remains higher than it should be. For these individuals, awareness and treatment are not enough—that’s why CDC is asking patients, families, and health care professionals to “make control the goal.”

If you have high blood pressure, there are steps you can take to get it under control, including—

  • Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be. Set a goal to lower your pressure with your doctor and then discuss how you can reach your goal. Work with your doctor to make sure you meet that goal.
  • Take your blood pressure medication as directed. If you are having trouble, ask your doctor what you can do to make it easier. For example, you may want to discuss your medication schedule with your doctor if you are taking multiple drugs at different times of the day. Or you may want to discuss side effects you are feeling, or the cost of your medicine.
  • Quit smoking—and if you don’t smoke, don’t start. You can find tips and resources at CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco Web site or Be Tobacco Free Web siteExternal Web Site Icon.
  • Reduce sodium. Most Americans consume too much sodium, and it raises their risk for high blood pressure.

There are other healthy habits, in addition to taking your medication that can help keep your blood pressure under control:

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Participate in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium, saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Manage stress.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink (no more than one drink each day for women and two for men).

If you have a family member who has high blood pressure, you can help by taking many of the steps listed above with them.  Go for walks together or cook meals with lower sodium. Make it a family affair!

Common Medications for High Blood Pressure

Many medications known as antihypertensives are available by prescription to lower high blood pressure. There are a variety of classes of HBP medications, and they include a number of different drugs.

The classes of blood pressure medications include:

  • Diuretics - Diuretics help the body get rid of excess sodium (salt) and water and help control blood pressure. They are often used in combination with additional prescription therapies.
  • Beta Blockers - Beta-blockers reduce the heart rate, the heart’s workload and the heart’s output of blood, which lowers blood pressure.
  • ACE Inhibitors - Angiotensin is a chemical that causes the arteries to become narrow, especially in the kidneys but also throughout the body. ACE stands for Angiotensin-converting enzyme. ACE inhibitors help the body produce less angiotensin, which helps the blood vessels relax and open up, which, in turn, lowers blood pressure.
  • Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers - These drugs block the effects of angiotensin, a chemical that causes the arteries to become narrow. Angiotensin needs a receptor- like a chemical “slot” to fit into or bind with- in order to constrict the blood vessel. ARBs block the receptors so the angiotensin fails to constrict the blood vessel. This means blood vessels stay open and blood pressure is reduced.
  • Calcium Channel Blockers - This drug prevents calcium from entering the smooth muscle cells of the heart and arteries. When calcium enters these cells, it causes a stronger and harder contraction, so by decreasing the calcium, the hearts’ contraction is not as forceful. Calcium channel blockers relax and open up narrowed blood vessels, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure.
  • Alpha Blockers - These drugs reduce the arteries’ resistance, relaxing the muscle tone of the vascular walls.
  • Alpha-2 Receptor Agonist - These drugs reduce blood pressure by decreasing the activity of the sympathetic (adrenaline-producing) portion of the involuntary nervous system. Methyldopa is considered a first line antihypertensive during pregnancy because adverse effects are infrequent for the pregnant woman or the developing fetus.
  • Central Agonists - Central agonists also help decrease the blood vessels’ ability to tense up or contract. The central agonists follow a different nerve pathway than the alpha and beta-blockers, but accomplish the same goal of blood pressure reduction.
  • Peripheral Adrenergic Inhibitors - These medications reduce blood pressure by blocking neurotransmitters in the brain. This blocks the smooth muscles from getting the “message” to constrict. These drugs are rarely used unless other medications don’t help.
  • Blood Vessel Dilators, or Vasodilators - Blood vessel dilators, or vasodilators, can cause the muscle in the walls of the blood vessels (especially the arterioles) to relax, allowing the vessel to dilate (widen). This allows blood to flow through better.

You’re Taking Medication for High Blood Pressure – Should You Wear a Medical ID?

For those with high blood pressure, a medical ID helps emergency responders know that your high blood pressure is not a symptom of an acute problem but rather your normal baseline.  This means they will pay particular attention to your heart while treating you and they will not be needlessly searching for an immediate cause of your current high blood pressure reading.

Even if your blood pressure is under control with medication, it’s still important to wear a medical ID that specifies the drugs that are being taken regularly.   Many of the above-mentioned prescription medications can have serious side effects such as dizziness or heart palpitations, which could cause a first responder to  mistakenly  think you’re having a heart attack.  Additionally, some drugs and supplements can raise blood pressure and/or interfere with the effectiveness of prescription medication used against high blood pressure.

Just remember, every minute counts in an emergency, and knowing your condition and medication makes diagnosis and assessment more accurate and timely.

 

 

Sources: CDC, American Heart Association

Salute to Nurses for National Nurses Week

American Medical ID would like to take a moment to honor and thank our nation’s nurses for their tireless dedication, hard work, and the wonderful care they provide to the communities they serve, not just for National Nurses Week, but all year round.  Health care is constantly changing and evolving. Today, more than ever, nurses are stepping out of their comfort zones and becoming active contributors and innovators in the health care system.  We would also like to thank these nurses for recommending medical IDs to all of their patients who need one.

National Nurses Week – May 6 through May 12

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.  As of 1998, May 8 was designated as National Student Nurses Day, to be celebrated annually.  And as of 2003,  National School Nurse Day is celebrated on the Wednesday within National Nurses Week (May 6-12) each year.

The theme for National Nurses Week 2014 is Nurses: Leading the Way.  Every day, nurses step forward embracing new technologies, resolving emerging issues, and accepting ever-changing roles in their profession. They lead the way for their patients, colleagues, organizations, and the health care industry as a whole.

The nursing profession has been supported and promoted by the American Nurses Association (ANA) since 1896. Each of ANA’s state and territorial nurses associations promotes the nursing profession at the state and regional levels. Each conducts celebrations on these dates to recognize the contributions that nurses and nursing make to the community. The ANA supports and encourages National Nurses Week recognition programs through the state and district nurses associations, other specialty nursing organizations, educational facilities, and independent health care companies and institutions.

A Brief History of National Nurses Week

1953  Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a proposal to President Eisenhower to proclaim a “Nurse Day” in October of the following year.  The proclamation was never made.
1954  National Nurse Week was observed from October 11 – 16. The year of the observance marked the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea. Representative Frances P. Bolton sponsored the bill for a nurse week. Apparently, a bill for a National Nurse Week was introduced in the 1955 Congress, but no action was taken. Congress discontinued its practice of joint resolutions for national weeks of various kinds.
1972 Again a resolution was presented by the House of Representatives for the President to proclaim “National Registered Nurse Day.” It did not occur.
1974  In January of that year, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) proclaimed that May 12 would be “International Nurse Day.” (May 12 is the birthday of Florence Nightingale.) Since 1965, the ICN has celebrated “International Nurse Day.”
1974  In February of that year, a week was designated by the White House as National Nurse Week, and President Nixon issued a proclamation.
1978  New Jersey Governor Brendon Byrne declared May 6 as “Nurses Day.” Edward Scanlan, of Red Bank, N.J., took up the cause to perpetuate the recognition of nurses in his state. Mr. Scanlan had this date listed in Chase’s Calendar of Annual Events. He promoted the celebration on his own.
1981 ANA, along with various nursing organizations, rallied to support a resolution initiated by nurses in New Mexico, through their Congressman, Manuel Lujan, to have May 6, 1982, established as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”
1982  In February, the ANA Board of Directors formally acknowledged May 6, 1982 as “National Nurses Day.” The action affirmed a joint resolution of the United States Congress designating May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”
1982  President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation on March 25, proclaiming “National Recognition Day for Nurses” to be May 6, 1982.
1990  The ANA Board of Directors expanded the recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration, declaring May 6 – 12, 1991, as National Nurses Week.
1993 The ANA Board of Directors designated May 6 – 12 as permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week in 1994 and in all subsequent years.
1996 The ANA initiated “National RN Recognition Day” on May 6, 1996, to honor the nation’s indispensable registered nurses for their tireless commitment 365 days a year. The ANA encourages its state and territorial nurses associations and other organizations to acknowledge May 6, 1996 as “National RN Recognition Day.”
1997 The ANA Board of Directors, at the request of the National Student Nurses Association, designated May 8 as National Student Nurses Day.

For more information on National Nurses Week including ways you can celebrate it, click here to visit the American Nurses Association website.

Be Better Prepared this National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month!

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month!

AAFA_NAAAM_14Each year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declares May to be “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.” It’s a peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers, and a perfect time to educate your patients, family, friends, co-workers and others about these diseases.

Important Dates

  • May 6 – World Asthma Day
  • May 11-17 – Food Allergy Awareness Week

Awareness Month Events and Fundraisers

There are several events and fundraisers planned, both online and local events.

Some of the local events include: 

Online events: 

  • Sweepstakes – each month, AAFA hosts an online Sweepstakes to give away Certified asthma & allergy friendly™ products. Visit www.aafa.org/sweepstakes to see what Sweepstakes are currently open.
  • Webinar (May 1) – Join the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a free webinar, Closing the Gap: Addressing Asthma Disparities in Schools, to learn how two programs used a comprehensive, partnership-based approach to reduce the burden of asthma in their school systems.
  • Webinar (May 20) – Join Kids With Food Allergies, AAFA’s food allergy division, on May 20 for a live discussion about dairy-free alternatives.

Conferences:

  • May 18 (San Diego, CA) – As part of the American Thoracic Society’s 2014 International Conference, patients will have the chance to Meet-the-Experts” at a public forum featuring lung health experts.
  • May 28-30 (Nashville, TN)— Join the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and Rebuilding Together at the 2014 National Healthy Homes Conference, featuring leaders from the healthy homes industry.

How You Can Help

You can help AAFA in a variety of ways to support asthma and allergy education, advocacy, and research programs.  Every contribution is 100% tax deductible.  Since 1953, AAFA has been the provider of patient-centered information for the more than 60 million people with asthma and allergies in the United States.

Through a gift to AAFA, you can memorialize a person who is no longer with us, or you can celebrate a birthday, anniversary or other milestone to honor a friend or family member who is living with asthma or allergies. Here are a few ways that you can help right away:

Additionally, the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) has a downloadable event planning kit full of great ideas, educational material and resources.  Click here to download the EPA event planning kit.

Prepare for an Asthma or Allergy Emergency

Know Your Triggers

There are many things you can do to prepare yourself in advance for asthma and/or allergy emergencies.  One important thing is to know your allergy or asthma trigger and work to reduce exposure to these items.  While this list is by no means all-inclusive, some common triggers are:

  • Wood smoke
  • Second hand smoke
  • Pets
  • Molds
  • Cockroaches and pests
  • Dust mites
  • Chemical irritants
  • Outdoor pollution
  • Pollens
  • Certain foods or food groups

Keep Rescue Medications Accessible.

If you are asthmatic, always have an albuterol inhaler on hand.  Place these “rescue inhalers” in a variety of locations so you can get to them easily: in your gym bag, at work, and in several places at home.  If there are other rescue medications that you need during an asthma attack, such as steroid tablets, keep those with you as well.

Allergies can also cause anaphylaxis — a severe, life-threatening reaction, which requires treatment with an epinephrine (adrenaline) shot and a trip to the emergency room.  EpiPen is an epinephrine auto-injector prescribed for the emergency treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions  caused by allergens, exercise, or unknown triggers; and for people who are at increased risk for these reactions.  People with severe allergies should always carry and EpiPen or similar epinephrine auto-injector.

Wear a Medical ID

In case the unthinkable happens, you should always wear an allergy or asthma medical ID bracelet, depending upon your needs.  It should list important information such as allergies, all medications taken on an ongoing basis, and an emergency contact.  It can be useful to include your name in a situation where you may not be able to talk. Having an allergy or asthma bracelet will let the medical staff know how to make the appropriate medical decisions that can save your life. In case you’re in an accident, medical professionals will know what your likely medications are and what not to give you.

Always ensure that you or your loved one is wearing medical ID at all times and especially before leaving the house. If necessary, pack an extra bracelet during special trips, particularly if you will be travelling alone or leaving town for an extended period. Always wear the bracelet where it can be spotted easily and avoid taking it off. There are new styles to fit your personality and wearing it can mean the difference between living a healthy life and suffering serious medical consequences.

 Sources:  EPA, AAFA