images of brain

7 Ways to Prevent Stroke

May is Stroke Awareness Month! Stroke is often thought of as a disease that affects only the elderly. Three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65, 1 however; strokes can affect anyone of any age.

 

What causes a stroke?

 

A stroke occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to part of the brain is blocked. Without oxygen, brain cells will begin to die in minutes. Sudden brain bleeding can also cause a stroke if brain cells receive damage.

 

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

 

Examples of stroke symptoms include

 

paralysis or numbness of the legs, arms or face

difficulty speaking or understanding speech

difficulty seeing

sudden weakness

 

How can stroke be prevented?

 

Certain risk factors are unavoidable such as age and having a close relative who has had a stroke. However, here are 7 healthy habits you can adopt to prevent this deadly disease today.

 

Lose weight

 

If you are overweight, losing weight is the most important place to start in reducing your risk of stroke. Make activity a regular part of your life and keep it fun. Finding an activity you really enjoy like participating in 5Ks or golfing will remove some of the pressure of having a weight loss plan.

 

Tracking your calories can help you determine where you’re consuming too much. Many apps will help you get an idea of what you should eat and track.

 

Work with your doctor to create a weight loss plan that meets your nutritional needs. A healthy, sustainable weight loss is typically 1-2 pounds per week, but may be more or less depending on your body’s needs and your doctor’s recommendations.

 

Lower blood pressure

 

High blood pressure is a very dangerous risk factor for stroke. It can double or even quadruple your risk level! Adopting to following strategies into your lifestyle can greatly improve blood pressure:

 

If you smoke, quit.

Reduce salt in your diet to 1,500 milligrams a day or less (around a half teaspoon).

Eat 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day, one to three servings of fish each week, and several servings of whole grains and low-fat dairy each day.

Avoid high-cholesterol foods like cheese, ice cream and burgers

Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.

 

Become more active 

 

Exercise is a contributor to other ways of reducing your risk, but exercise alone is also a stroke risk reducer. Make it a goal to  exercise at moderate intensity five days per week.

 

Ways to exercise more:

 

Walk whenever possible including to work or by parking farther away from entrances.

Find accountability with friends.

Take the stairs instead of an elevator.

Even if you don’t have 30 consecutive minutes to exercise, that’s ok! 10- to 15-minute sessions a few times each day are just as effective.

 

Manage diabetes

 

Having high blood sugar damages blood vessels and makes clots more likely to occur. If you have diabetes, keep your doctor’s appointments and follow his recommendations. Monitor your sugar regularly and use exercise, diet and medication (if prescribed) to keep your sugar at the recommended range.

 

Treat atrial fibrillation (afib)

 

Atrial fibrillation is a form of irregular heartbeat that can cause clots to form in the heart. Those clots then travel to the brain and produce a stroke.

 

Symptoms such as heart palpitations or shortness of breath may indicate afib. Your doctor may prescribe an anticoagulant drug (blood thinner) to reduce your stroke risk.

 

Drink alcohol in moderation (or not at all)

 

New research concluded that 1-2 drinks per day increased stroke risk by 10-15%. Four drinks per day increased the risk by 35%. 2

 

Commit to consuming no more than one glass of alcohol a day. Choose red wine first because it contains resveratrol, a substance which is thought to protect the brain and heart.  Also, beware of your portion sizes. A standard-sized drink is a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce glass of hard liquor.

 

Stop Smoking

 

Smoking thickens  blood and increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. This can lead to clot formation.

 

Ask your doctor for advice on the best way for you to quit. Quit-smoking aids, such as nicotine patches or pills, counseling, or medication may be strategies he or she recommends. Don’t give up no matter what! Few are able to quit on their first attempt. Think of any period of time not smoking as part of your success no matter how long or short it may be.

 

A stroke is a serious medical condition and requires emergency care. If you think you or someone else is having a stroke, call 9–1–1 immediately. During a stroke, every second counts!

 

To learn about our quality stroke care at CCMH, visit our website at http://www.ccmhhealth.com/stroke-care.

 

Sources

 

1 National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Stroke. 2019.

2 The Lancet. Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. 23 Aug. 2018.

 

Disclaimer


The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

 

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.


While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

bar shelves full of bottles of alcohol

Myths about Alcohol

One of the health observances we recognize in the month of April is alcohol awareness. According to The Global Drug Survey, alcohol is the #1 reason people end up in the Emergency Room.1 Therefore, it is so important to know the facts regarding alcohol consumption for your safety and the safety of others.

 

Myth #1: You can sober up quickly

 

Many make the mistake of letting themselves drink too much, too fast because they assume sobering up will not be difficult. Cold showers, fresh air, and hot coffee may seem refreshing, but it is not sobering. In fact, caffeine is a stimulant. Because of that, someone that is drunk is going to be more awake but just as impaired after coffee. The individual gains a false degree of confidence that they are not impaired. This could lead to riskier decision making.

 

Myth #2: It is good to build up your tolerance so you can drink more and stay sober

 

It is true that the more you drink over time, the more alcohol tolerance you develop. However, tolerance is a warning sign, not a stamp of approval to continue drinking. If you have to drink more to feel the same buzz you once did, you are on a dangerous path to developing a drinking problem. The more you drink, the more damage your body receives.

 

Myth #3: A nightcap helps you sleep

 

It is true that having a drink before you turn in at night will put you to sleep quicker. However, alcohol will disrupt sleep. Research from a 2018 study concluded that alcohol typically disrupts sleep during rapid eye movement or REM sleep, the more crucial sleep stage. 2

 

Myth #4: Eating before a meal will keep you sober

 

Food will not keep alcohol from affecting your body. The alcohol still enters your system. It may be delayed slightly due to the food, but if you drink heavily, your rate of absorption is affected only a little and you still get drunk.

 

Myth #5: Beer affects you less than other types of alcohol

 

Wine, liquor and beer all contain the same type of alcohol (ethanol). One standard drink should lead to the same level of intoxication. However, many tend to drink more when drinking hard liquor or mixing alcoholic beverages. Cocktails often contain much more alcohol than a standard drink.

 

So, what is a standard drink? For beer its 12 ounces.  A standard drink of wine is 5 ounces, and a mixed drink is one shot of 80-proof liquor. Each standard drink contains .5 ounces of ethanol.

 

Myth #6: When someone passes out from drinking, allow him to sleep it off

 

When someone is so drunk he passes out, alcohol can continue to absorb into the body, sometimes leading to a fatal overdose. Unfortunately, some “aspirate” on their own vomit and choke to death after drinking. It’s important to stay with someone who may have had too much to drink. Do not assume that he will be ok while “sleeping it off.”

 

 

 

Life is meant to be enjoyed. However, make sure as you enjoy life you remember your health and safety too! If you feel your drinking habits are becoming a problem, please reach out to one of our CCMH providers for an appointment. You can find a list of them on our online directory at ccmhhealth.com/directory.

 

Disclaimer


The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

 

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.


While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

 

Sources

 

1 Global Drug Survey Findings 2014.

 

2 US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Colrain, Ian M., Nicholas Christian L., and Baker, Fiona C. Alcohol and the Sleeping Brain. 2018 Feb 21.

 

4 juul devices on table

Juuling Much More Dangerous than Teens Realize

Kick Butts Day takes place on March 20, 2019. This national day of activism empowers our nation’s youth to take a stand against the tobacco industry. The initiative expects  more than 1,000 anti-tobacco events across our nation and the world.

This year’s campaign will focus on e-cigarette usage (juuling) among our nation’s youth. U.S. public health officials named youth e-cigarette use an “epidemic”. This trend is raising up our next generation with a harmful and addictive tobacco habit.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the organizer of the initiative, cigarette smoking among high schoolers nationwide has dropped to 8.1%. However, e-cigarette usage among high schoolers rose an alarming 78% in 2018 alone. This is 20.8% of the student population. Furthermore, this means in 2018, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes. 1

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids encourages health advocates and youth to call for strong action to put a halt to the youth e-cigarette epidemic. Particularly, they urge the FDA as well as state and local governments to ban tobacco products the industry clearly markets to youth. This also includes flavored tobacco products such as e-cigarettes or Juuls that taste like gummy bear, mango and cotton candy. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, research shows that flavors play a key role in the appeal of tobacco products for kids. 1

 

Why are Juuls so popular among youth?

 

Juul electronic cigarettes released on the market in 2015. Using any type of e-cigarette or vape has skyrocketed. However, this particular brand remains the most popular among teens and young adults. Because it makes up more than half of e-cigarette sales, Juul usage is an immediate public health concern.

The manufacturer cleverly markets Juul e-cigarettes to appear techy, sleek, and easy to conceal. Furthermore, they look just like USB flash drives and can even charge in a USB port on your computer. The device is also small enough to fit in a closed hand. For decades we have preached about the dangers of cigarettes to our youth. Juuls, however, don’t look anything like the traditional tobacco products we urge kids to avoid.

Also, kids do not refer to using a Juul as “smoking,” but as “juuling,” further disassociating the trend from the dangerous tobacco usage that it is.

Juuling delivers nicotine faster, more efficiently, and at higher doses than other e-cigarettes. In return, this increases users’ risk of addiction. Each Juul cartridge of nicotine liquid (Juul pod) contains as much nicotine as whole pack of cigarettes. Many Juul users don’t realize the product always contains nicotine.  

 

Why is juuling especially harmful for teens?

 

Not only is juuling dangerous for kids, but it may be even more so than for adults.

A 2016 Surgeon General’s report concluded that youth use of nicotine is unsafe, addictive and can even harm the developing adolescent brain. 2

Similarly, a report that was published by the JAMA Network after pediatric research concluded that e-cigarette use increases the risk of youth ever using combustible tobacco cigarettes later in life. 3

 

We encourage you to discuss tobacco usage including new trends like juuling with the youth in your life. For more resources, you can visit Kickbuttsday.org.

Our CCMH health providers are also dedicated youth advocates and are always willing to discuss tobacco use with you or your child. To find a CCMH provider to meet your needs, visit our online directory at http://ccmhhealth.com/directory.  

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the CCMH website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet your medical needs.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

 

Sources

1 Torres, Gustavo. Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Kicking Juul: Youth take action to reverse e-cigarette epidemic.19 Mar 2019.

2 United States. Public Health Service. E-cigarette use among youth and young adults : a report of the Surgeon General. 2016. 

3  Watkins PhD, Shannon Lea; Glantz PhD, Stanton A. ; Chaffee, DDS, PhD, Benjamin W. JAMA Network. Association of Noncigarette Tobacco Product Use With Future Cigarette Smoking Among Youth in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study, 2013-2015.

 

 

energy drinks sitting on table

The Dangers of Energy Drinks

When life is busy, many of us are tempted to grab an energy drink to put a little extra pep in our step. However, research continues to find concerning effects after consuming these popular beverages. Consuming multiple energy drinks in a short time or consuming energy drinks in combination with other caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, can be especially harmful.  

Some lawmakers are even attempting to ban the sale of energy drinks to those under the age of 18. These legislative efforts occurred following tragic events such as the death of a sixteen-year- old boy from South Carolina. Davis Cripe suffered a cardiac episode that led to his death after consuming an energy drink, coffee and Mountain Dew in less than an hour. 1

 

What are the harmful ingredients in energy drinks?

 

The main ingredients of most energy drinks are caffeine and sugar. However, many experts believe it isn’t necessarily the caffeine in energy drinks that is harmful. After all, most healthy individuals who do not typically experience adverse effects from caffeine can safely consume 4-5 cups of coffee per day without problem.

The problem lies in the amount of sugar and caffeine. Many energy drinks have as much caffeine as 3-4 cups of coffee and more than the recommended amount of sugar you should consume in one day.

There are additional herbal stimulants found in energy drinks that are not regulated by the FDA. These ingredients in combination with high sugar and caffeine content may be the cause of serious or fatal problems for some consumers. 2

 

What happens after drinking an energy drink?


Twenty minutes after ingesting an energy drink, you experience a sugar high. This blood sugar spike results in a quick release of the hormone insulin.

Forty minutes later, all the caffeine is absorbed. As a result, blood pressure rises, the liver dumps even more sugar into the bloodstream and pupils dilate.

Forty five minutes later, dopamine production occurs in the body. This hormone gives you a sensation of pleasure. This reaction is similar to how the body responds to heroin.

After 60 minutes, a sugar crash occurs. The caffeine slowly wears off and you can experience mood changes, lethargy, fatigue and mental fogginess.


Why are energy drinks viewed as so unsafe?



It is difficult to predict how energy drinks will affect different individuals, especially with underlying heart issues or in combination with other substances containing alcohol or caffeine.

Oftentimes, individuals do not know they have a cardiac problem until something fatal occurs. For this reason, it is better to be safe than sorry when choosing how to get some extra pep to get through the day.

Despite what we do not know with certainty, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a very clear opinion of energy drink usage in children and teens. Given the observed side effects, including irregular heartbeats and blood pressure changes, the AAP recommends that children and teens should not consume energy drinks at all. 3



How to pep up without excessive caffeine


You can successfully and healthily boost energy levels in many ways that are safer than consuming copious amounts of stimulants.

Exercise regularly and participate in activities to reduce stress. 

Be mindful of your diet. Reduce sugar and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in plants, seeds, fish and nuts.

Rest! Be sure to get 7-8 hours of quality rest each night.

Through safely managing your diet and routine, it is possible to achieve greater energy levels that do not involve risky habits.

 

Sources

1 KUTV. Gould, Cynthia. 16 Apr. 2018. 16-year-old’s death linked to energy drink, caffeine products.

2 Cleveland Heart Lab.13 Dec. 2018. Can Energy Drinks Harm Your Heart?

3 American Academy of Pediatrics. Energy Drinks.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

elderly pain with arthritis walking with cane

Daily Knee Exercises for Arthritis Pain

When you struggle with knee pain from arthritis, you know the effort it takes just to complete normal daily activity. From swelling to stiffness- the last thing you want to do is move. However, knee pain from arthritis can be lessened with the help of exercise.

 

How Arthritis Affects the Knees

 

The ends of the bones that meet in the knee joint are covered with cartilage. This cartilage provides cushioning and protection to the bones as you move. The knee also has the meniscus between the thigh and shin bone. The meniscus protects the cartilage.

When someone has arthritis, the cartilage wears down over time. As the bones rub together, they create friction on the joints. This may lead to bone spurs, swelling and stiffness. Bending and straightening the knee with arthritis is difficult.

The meniscus can wear down too. According to Dr. Johnson, Orthopedic Surgeon at CCMH, The meniscus is like a brake pad on your car.  “It won’t last forever, “ said Dr. Johnson. “The number of cycles you put on it cause wear and tear. It may not be able to protect cartilage as well as it could before it was worn out.” A tear in your meniscus or other injury to your knee can damage or cause additional wear, which can predispose you to knee osteoarthritis earlier than you would with the normal aging process.”

Knee arthritis is not uncommon. It usually starts at  50 years of age and older.

 


Using Exercise to Help Knee Arthritis


Exercises for arthritis including aerobics and strength exercises can reduce symptoms, increase balance, add joint motion and function, and aid in weight control.

“Your body relies on muscles to help motor joints,”  stated Dr. Johnson. “For the knee, that’s the quadriceps in the front of the thigh and hamstrings in the back. You can’t cure arthritis or make it go away, but if you strengthen the muscles that support and stabilize the knee, you can take some of the stress load of weight-bearing or walking off a joint that’s worn out and weakened from arthritis, and place it on the stronger muscle.”

 

Things to Consider Before  Exercising with Knee Arthritis


It is always advisable to discuss a new exercise program with your physician. A doctor or physical therapist can help you choose a program that is safe, helps you gain strength, and won’t increase inflammation and joint pain. If you’ve had knee surgery, get guidance from your doctor or physical therapist on what knee exercises are safe for you.

 

Joint Protection Tips

Commit to doing a little exercise each day


Dr. Johnson suggests trying to stay active even when arthritis flares up. Simple range-of-motion stretches may actually help reduce pain.

 


Begin slowly


If you do too much too fast, your muscles may be overworked and joint pain worsened. Slowly increase in exercise intensity and length as you progress.

 


Start with gentle stretches

“When beginning any activity, start with five minutes or 10 minutes of stretching to help elongate the muscles and make them easier to move,”  Dr. Johnson said. “And do it again at the end. Don’t force any stretches; keep your movements slow and easy. With strength training, begin with fewer reps or lower weight, and build up gradually.”

Listen to your body


If your joints start to ache or you experience new joint pain, stop. Discuss with your doctor to learn what pain is normal. Some discomfort may be normal, but your doctor can help you identify pain that is more serious.

 


Exercises to Relieve Knee Pain from Arthritis

 

Dr. Johnson recommended these knee exercises:

 

Hamstring Stretch


This exercise stretches the back of your thigh and behind your knee.

While lying on the floor with both legs bent and feet on the ground, lift one leg off the floor and bring the knee toward your chest. Put your hands behind your thigh below your knee. (You may also loop a towel around your thigh and grasp the end, if it is easier.)
Straighten your leg and pull it toward your head gently until you feel a stretch.
Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
Repeat the sequence one or two more times on each leg.
Don’t put your hands (or towel) at your knee joint and pull.

Quadricep Stretch

 

This exercise stretches the front of your thigh.

Stand behind a chair or next to a wall. Hold on for balance.
Bend one knee. Bring your heel up toward your buttock.
Hold onto your ankle and gently pull your heel closer to your body.
Hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
Repeat the sequence one or two more times on each leg.
Be sure to not arch or twist your back while stretching.

 


Straight-Leg Raises


This exercise strengthens the front of your thigh.

While lying on the floor with your elbows directly under your shoulders to support your upper body, keep your neck and shoulders relaxed.
Place your leg with the affected knee in front of you while straight. Bend the other leg so your foot is flat on the floor.
Tighten the thigh muscle of the straight leg. Then, slowly raise it 6 to 10 inches off the floor.
Hold this position for 5 seconds. Then, relax and bring your leg to the floor. Repeat for three sets of 10.

Dr. Johnson suggests trying  this exercise while you watch your favorite TV show. Start with five reps at every commercial until you get to 30. Then, gradually work your way up to 50, and 100. As it becomes easier, you can slowly increase the resistance by adding ankle weights. Slowly increase them by one pound increments.


Slow “March”


This exercise strengthens stabilizing muscles of your foot, knee, and hip.

Stand next to a wall or door frame for support.
While you balance on your right foot, hold on to the wall or door frame to stay steady if needed.
Keep your knee straight over your ankle, slightly bent.
Slowly lift your left foot until your knee is level with your hip. If you cannot quite get there, get as close to that position as you can without pain.
Slowly lower your foot back to the floor. Then, repeat with the other foot.
Repeat as many times as you can, while in correct position.

 


Bodyweight Squat


This exercise helps strengthen thighs and buttocks.

Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart, or a little wider.
If needed, hold on to something stable, like the back of sturdy chair or kitchen sink.
Keep your chest lifted and shift your weight back into your heels while slowly pushing your hips back, as is you were sitting down into a chair.
Keep your feet flat and lower yourself as far as you’re comfortable (such as a quarter or halfway down to where a chair would be).
Push through your heels and bring your body back up to standing.
Repeat the sequence three times.

Sit-and-Stand


This exercise increases range of motion and strengthens the back of the thigh and buttocks.

Stand in front of a sturdy chair that won’t move. A table in front of you can help with support, if needed.
Stand with your feet planted on the floor and hip-distance apart.
Press your buttocks and hips back first. Then, bend your knees and slowly lower yourself to a seated position.
Hold the table, if needed, to keep you from falling back into the chair.
Tip forward at the hips.

Push through your feet up with your legs into a standing position.
Repeat three times, gradually building up to more reps.




If your arthritis pain is debilitating, please reach out to CCMH Orthopedics by visiting http://www.ccmhhealth.com/orthopedics/.

 

Disclaimer


The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

 

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.


While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

woman holding decorative heart

Improve Heart Health in Unique Ways

One of the leading causes of death is cardiovascular disease. Although we cannot change certain risk factors such as age and family history, we can help prevent cardiovascular disease and hope to live a long, healthy life. You probably know that  exercise and a healthy diet can help keep our hearts strong, but there are other means to improve heart health that you may not know. Here are six unique ways you can keep your heart healthy.

 

Crank up the music


Several studies have shown that music can have several positive effects on our bodies including lowering stress and even blood pressure. A study at Massachusetts General Hospital also found that heart patients who were confined to bed had slower heart rates, lower blood pressure, and less distress when they listened to music for 30 minutes each day. 1 So, pull out your favorite tunes, sit back and enjoy the improved heart health! 

 

Have a laugh


We have all heard the Old Testament proverb that “laughter is the best medicine” and have experienced positive emotional effects of having a laugh. Science is proving that there are more than just emotional benefits to laughter, however. Consequently, laughter can also helps our hearts pump stronger!  As we laugh, our blood vessels enlarge in diameter. This in return increases the blood flow like when we participate in aerobic exercise.

 

The University of Maryland also conducted a study and discovered that when people laugh at a funny movie scene, they experience improved blood flow. 2 So, head to the movies, turn on your favorite comedian or sitcom, and enjoy some laughs! 

 

Be kind


We know that high stress levels are not good for our hearts. When we are upset, cortisol, our stress hormone, increases and our blood pressure and inflammation rises. When we experience positive emotions though, our oxytocin levels rise, helping to improve heart health, and our cortisol levels drop. Being kind to others makes us feel better emotionally and just might improve heart health.


Consider the Mediterranean Diet


Many studies have had positive heart health conclusions when studying the Mediterranean diet. According to a 2013 study from Spain, a Mediterranean style of eating can reduce heart disease risk by as much as 30%. 3

The Mediterranean diet consists of green vegetables, nuts, avocados, fruits, beans, high-fiber grains, olives and olive oil,  and an occasional side of small, wild fish such as salmon. In this diet, individuals seldom consume red meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, sugary foods and drinks, and refined flours.


Love a Pet


Could your favorite canine or feline improve heart health? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), they can!  Studies show that having a pet can relieve stress, help increase fitness levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increase happiness and wellbeing. 4

Studies on dog owners show that they tend to live longer, have lower risks for heart disease, better cholesterol profiles, less hypertension and are less vulnerable to stress. The reason for these positive results is not entirely clear, but it could be due to the fact that dog owners are generally more active than non-owners.  Either way, owning a pet who loves you unconditionally has plentiful emotional benefits.

If you’re not in a position to own a dog, local shelters often need volunteers to play with dogs. Consider playing with a friends dog or taking up dog walking and earn some extra cash too!

 

Offer a Hug


Oxytocin levels rise and cortisol level drop when we give and receive hugs. In a study by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, participants who hugged their partners had a slower heart rate up to 10 beats per minute than those who did not hug their partners.5

So, grab someone around you who needs a hug, and enjoy the improved heart health!

 

Good health is often about incorporating small changes in our routine. We hope this article encourages you to add some of these activities to your routine and  improve your heart health today!

Learn about Heart and Vascular Services at CCMH by visiting CCMHHealth.com/Heart-And-Vascular/.

 

Sources

1 Harvard Health Letter. Harvard Health Publishing. Nov. 2009. Using music to tune the heart.

2 Stein, Rob. Los Angeles Times. Apr. 2005.  Laughter helps blood go with the flow.

3 John Hopkins Medicine. Take Your Diet to the Mediterranean.

4 The American Heart Association. Apr. 2018. Can Your Pet Help You Be Healthier?

5 McColm, Jan. Endeavors. Jan. 2004. A Hug a Day  

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

runner on mountain path

Activities To Improve Heart Health

February is the month we dedicate as American Heart Month. Throughout February, we would like to encourage you to participate in activities to improve the health of your heart.

The heart is so important because it contains some of the body’s most valuable muscles. These muscles and the valves of the heart keep our blood moving and sustains our lives 24/7. As with all other muscles, we can improve the functionality of the heart with exercise.

Many of us are not fond of exercise, but it is very good for our bodies. Not only does regular exercise just help you live healthier and feel better, but it also helps protect you from the #1 killer in America, heart disease, and it can even add years to your life!

 

How should you exercise to help the heart?

 

If you are someone with a medical condition including a heart condition or diabetes, make an appointment to discuss what exercise routine is best in your situation.

If you are new to exercising regularly, start slow. We stick better to routines that are not too vigorous and overwhelmingly challenging. Aim for participating in 30 minutes of exercise each day.

Remember, any movement is good for you. You may be exercising and not even really realize it. As you participate in exercise, the large muscles of your body cause your heart to beat faster which strengthens them.

Don’t participate in an aerobic activity that you do not enjoy. This increases the chances of you abandoning the routine. To impact your heart, find time for moderate aerobic activity most days of the week for a total of around 2.5 hours. If you have a busy schedule, try breaking it into a few 10 to 15 minute sessions.

How does the heart benefit from exercise?


Exercise often leads to weight loss. If you’re overweight, losing even just a few pounds may significantly impact heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Exercise also reduces stress. Stress can contribute to other conditions which are factors in heart disease.

Lower blood pressure is also a positive result of exercise. 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity is recommended to help bring high blood pressure into healthy range.

Lower cholesterol is also a positive benefit of exercise.


What are some heart friendly forms of moderate exercise?


Dancing

Skiing

Yard work

Hiking

Softball

Tennis (doubles)

Swimming

Golfing without a golf cart

Bicycling

Moderate walking (around 3.5 mph)


What are some more vigorous forms of heart healthy exercise?


If you participate in all vigorous activities, aim for 75 minutes of exercise each week to benefit your heart.

Vigorous activities include:


Soccer

Basketball

Tennis (singles)

Cross-country skiing

Brisk walking (about 4.5 mph)

Jogging

Heavy yard work

Stair climbing

Hiking uphill

Bicycling over 10 mph

Jumping rope

 


How Do I Know If I’m Helping My Heart?


To ensure you are benefitting from aerobic activity  and increasing your heart health, track your heart rate. First, determine your resting heart rate. You can do so by counting your heart beats for 10 seconds and multiply that number by six.

Normal resting heart rate for adults is from 60 to 100 beats per minute. A lower resting heart rate is usually the result of more efficient heart function and cardiovascular fitness. A well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats per minute for example.

Many factors influence heart rate, and there is a wide range of normal. Nevertheless, an unusually high or low heart rate can indicate a problem. Consult your doctor if your resting heart rate is above 100 beats a minute consistently or if your resting heart rate is below 60 beats a minute and you’re not a trained athlete.

During exercise, your heart rate should increase to about 50 to 85% of your maximum heart rate based on your age. For moderate intensity exercise, your target heart rate should increase to 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate. For vigorous exercise, your target heart rate should be 70 to 85% of your maximum heart rate.

You can determine what your maximum heart rate should be for your age by viewing this article by the American Heart Association.

When you first start exercising, aim for the lower number for your age range. As your fitness improves, you can gradually aim for the higher number. No matter your age, it’s never too late to make heart health a goal.

If you would like to learn about heart and vascular services offered at CCMH, please visit http://www.ccmhhealth.com/heart-and-vascular/.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

woman holding head in pain

Sleeping Well with Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is suspected to affect between 11% and 40% of American adults. The most common types of chronic pain include back pain, nerve pain, joint pain and chronic headaches, and it is one of the top reasons adults seek medical care. 1 A variety of additional problems are linked to chronic pain including depression and anxiety, restrictions in daily activities and mobility, dependence on opioids, and reduced quality of life.

No matter the extent which the chronic pain sufferer experiences these symptoms, most all sufferers complain of inability to receive a good night of rest. Sleep is important for the physical health of all. However, it is even more important for those dealing with chronic problems. For example, sleep helps to repair the blood vessels and heart. Furthermore, sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of a variety of conditions including kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. 2

For the sufferer of chronic pain, sometimes the only time he or she receives reprieve from pain is while sleeping. Although, many develop problems while sleeping due to the inability to get comfortable. A vicious cycle then begins of feeling exhausted which increases symptoms and pain.

Although difficult, sleeping with chronic pain is not impossible. Here are seven methods which may help improve your sleep quality despite the pain.

 

Avoid napping

When you suffer from chronic pain, you tend to try to get sleep anytime and any way you can. Sleep is however, how the pain is avoided. Sometimes a nap is unavoidable after a fitful night of sleep, but don’t nap routinely. Napping too much during the day may increase your chances of not being able to sleep at night.

If you do feel especially tired, try to nap in the morning and set an alarm so you don’t sleep the day away. A morning nap allows more time to pass before bedtime than an afternoon nap, ensuring you are sufficiently sleepy for bedtime.

 

Develop a routine

Although it is difficult to avoid hitting the snooze button, rising and laying down at the same time everyday is important. Your internal clock will adjust and your body will prepare to relax and sleep at the right time.

During the day, open up the house and let in as much light as possible. Exposing yourself to light helps your internal clock become more aware of when it is time to go to sleep.

Also, go through the same steps of your sleep routine each night. Spend half an hour or so going through your hygiene routine and complete a relaxing activity before turning off the light such as reading. Avoid screens from computers, smartphones and TVs which can be overstimulating and keep your mind from winding down. Some relaxation exercises may also help you go to sleep more quickly.

 

Limit caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant found in sodas, teas, energy drinks, coffee and chocolate. Limit your consumption as much as possible and consume caffeine by early afternoon. This will allow sufficient time for the effects to wear off before bedtime.

 

Review your medications

Discuss your medications with your doctor to ensure none of them are causing you to lose sleep. Also, ask your doctor about sleep aids. Although not usually recommended long term, your doctor may approve for you to take a sleep aid short term to help get your sleep on track or as needed for particularly bad days.

 

Exercise

Exercising four to eight hours before bedtime may help reduce anxiety, a common factor that interrupts sleep. However, be sure to allow enough of time between exercise and bedtime. Working out too late in the day can keep you awake.

 

Create a good environment for sleep

Many factors can influence your sleep including mattress and pillow firmness, sleep position, temperature and darkness level. Consider using white noise to block out noise if your bedroom is near a high traffic area. Blackout shades may also help. Discuss with your doctor to learn if he or she recommends specific types of mattresses, pillows and sleep positions for your type of pain.

 

Get your pain under control

Although easier said than done, getting your pain under control is the best method to improving sleep. Relaxation techniques, acupuncture, medications and surgery are all used to help treat various forms of chronic pain. Discuss with your doctor which methods may be best.

If pain is part of your daily experience, we want to help you achieve the optimum level of comfort and an increased quality of life. Please seek medical attention from one of our CCMH providers. To learn more about problems affecting sleep and how we can help visit CCMHealth.com/Center-For-Sleep-Medicine/.

 

Sources

1 Dahlhamer J, Lucas J, Zelaya, C, et al. Prevalence of Chronic Pain and High-Impact Chronic Pain Among Adults — United States, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:1001–1006.

2 National Heart Blood & Lung Institute. Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.
Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.
While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

teens walking together

Drug Use in Children and Teens

January 22-27 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week. During this week, we encourage all adults to take a few minutes and educate themselves on a few facts about drug usage in children and teens. You never know if you may have the opportunity to apply this knowledge and save a life whether it is the life of your own child, a student, neighbor or child you mentor.

 

When are youth at the highest risk of using drugs and alcohol?

 

Research shows that the time of highest risk for beginning drug consumption during youth is during times of transition. 1 The first major transition in a child’s life is entering school. Studies also show that the earlier you begin discussing the dangers of drugs with children, the more likely you are to be successful and preventing drug usage. On the other hand, the younger a child tries drugs, the more likely he or she is to develop a problem. 2

 

As children advance to middle school and then high school, they are confronted with more and more challenges and social pressure. They are more likely to be offered illegal substances as they get older.

The risk of drug consumptions continues to grow as youth leave home after high school.  

 

How should I talk to my kids about drugs and alcohol?

 

Keep in mind that is is never too early to begin talking to your children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

 

In early elementary school, drug usage often begin with huffing or sniffing household or school items such as markers and glue. Discuss why it is important to use items only as they are intended with your children. Teach them to report these unusual behaviors to you or their teachers. Read books to them about the dangers of drugs and offer to volunteer to find programs for their school if there is not a drug prevention program offered.

 

In fact, volunteering when you can at school activities will give you a chance to get to know your child’s peers and be more aware of any concerning behaviors.

 

As children progress through elementary school and into middle school, teach them how to identify drugs and that many drugs look like candies. Walk them through different scenarios they may encounter and practice how to say no with them.

 

Open, ongoing conversation as your child grows is so important. Ask specific questions about how he or she is coping through times of stress.

 

What warning signs should I be aware of?

 

Many behaviors may indicate that a child is consuming drugs and alcohol. Some of these are:

 

Not telling you where they’re going or when they’re coming home
Disappearance of valuable items or money from your home
Verbal or physical abusive
Decreased memory and attention span
Mood swings
Decreased interest in school work, personal hygiene, hobbies, family activities and friends
Spending a lot of time in their room
Overreacting to criticism, acting rebellious
Being negative, argumentative, paranoid or confused

 

How can I get help for my child’s drug problem?

 

If your child has a drug or alcohol problem, dealing with all the emotions can be difficult. You may feel overwhelmed and not know where to turn for help.

 

Many services exist within our community to provide assistance to you and your child. You can always reach out to your doctor for recommendations. Another way to discover these services is by calling or visiting the website for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. You can reach them at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

 

Sometimes the best of kids slip up. It is natural to feel upset in this situation. Remember to not blame yourself or focus on your disappointment or anger if you discover your child has a problem. Focus on providing him or her with the help that is needed so he or she can go on to live a successful life.

 

Sources

1 National Institute on Drug Abuse.  What are the highest risk periods for drug abuse among youth? Oct. 2003.

2 Addiction Center. Teen Drug Abuse. 19 Nov. 2018.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

stethoscope with doctor and patient in background

Three Steps to Good Cervical Health

January is Cervical Health Awareness month. To promote good cervical health, there are three steps we encourage all women to take. These steps are simple and greatly reduce a woman’s chances of developing cervical cancer or cervical dysplasia (the development of abnormal cells in the cervix).

Get Regular Pap Smears

First, one step to good cervical health is getting regular Pap smears. The general guidelines are for for women between the ages of 21 and 29 to have a Pap smear every 3 years if they have had no abnormal cervical cells in the past. Women between the ages of 30 and 65 may have a Pap smear and HPV test every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years. However, what is best in your situation will depend on the recommendations of your doctor.

Practice Safe Sex

In 99% of cervical cancer cases, the HPV virus is present. 1 This sexually transmitted infection (STI) is spread through sexual, skin-to-skin contact. Safe sex helps prevents STIs, and penile penetration is not needed to transmit this virus. Heterosexual and homosexual couples are both at risk. Condoms are not 100 percent effective at preventing the spread of HPV, but studies show that they do provide some protection. 2

Beware of Symptoms

Cervical cancer rarely presents early symptoms. However, you should always report any concerning symptoms you are experiencing to your doctor. Symptoms that may indicate a cervical problem include vaginal discharge, pain during sexual intercourse, abnormal vaginal bleeding and vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse.

 

If you have other questions or concerns regarding cervical health, visit our women’s health page to find the contact information for MMG Gynecology and Obstetrics.

 

 

Sources

 

1 National Cervical Cancer Coalition. Cervical Cancer Overview.

2 Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Fact Sheet for Public Health Personnel. 5 March 2013.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

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