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Holidays = More Heart Attacks?

The Holidays are among us!  It all fun and games and no stress…right?  Well, maybe if you are 6 years old!  Studies show that stress is greatly increased between Thanksgiving and New Years; but I am guessing this is no surprise to you; as it was not to me.  But how bad is the stress?  According to  Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD, Heart Institute, Good Samaritan Hospital and the American Heart Association:

When we plotted daily rates of death from ischemic heart disease in Los Angeles County during November, December, and January, we were struck by an increase in deaths starting around Thanksgiving, climbing through Christmas, peaking on New Year’s Day, and then falling…

So how do you avoid becoming next years statistic?

1. Plan ahead.

Part of the problem is our financial obligations.  We have our little budgets planned for each month and try to stick to them through the year.  When Christmas comes around our budgets go off track and we are left with more month than money.  So what if we saved for Christmas all year long?  Its as simple as saving $20 every pay period or $10 a week.  This would give you $520 to start shopping with!  I know for me that would be a good chunk of gifts for children and family.

2. Perfection

People tend to want their Christmas day to be perfect.  This is impossible!  There are going to be cranky children, food may be a little cold or a little burned, relatives are going to show up late…and the list can go on.  But lets step back and think about last year, better yet; ask your kids about last year.  Do they remember what gifts they got or do they remember the drive you took to look at the neighborhood Christmas lights.  For me personally, the kids could not remember one toy they got last year….ugh!  But they did remember walking through the local churches live nativity.  They remembered how funny it was when the tree fell down because the cat tried to climb our fake tree (was not funny then).  Truth is, make memories out of the craziness that is the holidays.  Most memories can be changed from stressful to funny depending on how you react to it and your decision to go with the flow.  So try and stress less about your retail perfection and relax and enjoy the holidays.

3. Less is More

Yep!  Less is defiantly More!  You don’t have to spend so much money on everyone or make so much food.  When I am making my Christmas Day “food plan” I tend to go overboard.  Breakfast consists of pancakes, bacon, eggs, toast, and fruit.  As soon as we are done and stuffed, its time to clean up and make the Christmas lunch meal which consists of yams, mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, green bean casserole, rolls, stuffing, and don’t forget desert!  By the time I am done slaving in the kitchen on lunch and setting out the food I am exhausted; and everyone is still full from breakfast.  So the disappointment begins…

The holidays don’t need to cause a heart attack…a memory no one will forget next year.  So avoid the stress, plan for next year starting New Years; only $20 a paycheck, and remember less is more in the holidays!

Have a Heart Healthy Day!

Kristi Krouse

Communication! Communication! Communication!

signs of stroke

 

There are many signs of a stroke you can watch out for. When a person is suffering from a stroke, communication with the hospital is essential.  If the EMT’s will warn the hospital that a stroke patient is en route, the hospital can be prepared when they arrive.  This small step can save so much time which can change the outcome of the stroke damage.  Truth is, EMT’s fail to do this simple yet vital step over 1/3 of the time and don’t notify the hospital when they see signs of a stroke.  Simply having the hospital ready for evaluation and treatment can change the outcome.

“Pre-notification was independently associated with better treatment times:

  • arrival-to-imaging times of 25 minutes or less,
  • arrival-to-treatment with the clot-busting drug tPA within 60 minutes,
  • symptom onset-to-tPA treatment times of 120 minutes or less,
  • and more eligible patients treated with tPA.”

This notification is especially critical if the patient is suffering from a stroke called ischemia; when a blood clot cuts off oxygen to the brain.  Clot busting medications can only be given within a 3 to 4.5 hour time frame.

National guidelines do recommend that these steps of communication are followed, but little change has been made.  If word spreads and EMT’s are knowledgeable of this vital communication step, there are significant positive results.  For example:

“Among patients arriving within two hours of symptom onset, patients with EMS pre-notification were more likely to:

  • be treated with tPA within three hours (82.8 percent vs. 79.2 percent);
  • have shorter arrival-to-imaging times (26 minutes vs. 31 minutes);
  • have shorter arrival-to-tPA treatment times (78 minutes vs. 80 minutes); and
  • have shorter symptom onset-to-tPA treatment times (141 minutes vs. 145 minutes).”

To see a map of rates to identify where communication needs to be improved go see the article referring to this problem written by the American Heart Association.
If EMT’s are aware of this problem, I believe that they will do everything possible to help their patients.  They are hero’s after all!
Have a Heart Healthy Day!
Kristi Krouse

Swimming makes my heart pitter-patter!

We all know that swimming for exercise is great to burn calories and great cardiovascular exercise; but how great is it?  How does it compare to the weight loss go-to…running.  I have to admit I was surprised.

For me personally, I run because it burns calories to keep my clothes fitting.  Not because I love feeling the pavement under my feet or   the sweat running down my back.  Swimming though…I love swimming!  It is relaxing, calming, and you don’t feel so nasty and sweaty afterwards.   Every time I decide I am gonna use my time at the gym swimming, I feel like I am indulging and then feel guilty that I did not run off 400 calories on the treadmill.  Well, that is all gone now!

Why is swimming so amazing?

Swimming works your cardiovascular system and therefore makes your body more efficient at using oxygen…which makes your heart work easier.   As you get better and can swim longer your resting heart rate will get better too!    When you are swimming you are working every single muscle which will tone and strengthen your muscles.   There is also a low risk of injury because you are not straining joint or ligaments.   Not to mention the healing properties that water seems to give.  But this tops the cake!  Did you know…and I admit I did not.   Swimming can burn the same amount of calories that running at 6 mph!  SERIOUSLY!  On a great day I run 9 or 10 mph…and that’s bookin it :).

For me, swimming is now a huge part of  my workout routine!  I would love to hear your swimming experiences!

Have a Heart Healthy Day!

Kristi Krouse

The Ups and Downs of Arrhythmia

heart arrhythmiaFirst, what is a heart arrhythmia?

The heart has a perfect beat, not to fast, not to slow…if it wavers off, it is considered an arrhythmia; simple as that!  There are different kinds of arrhythmia’s, but lets keep it simple.

–  Tachycardia: heart is to fast.

–  Bradycardia: heart is to slow.

Arrhythmia’s are then identified by where they are happening in the heart; atria or ventricles.

You can have an atrial or ventricular arrhythmia.

Don’t get me wrong, this is very simplified, there are many other layers, but this is the basics.

Now, why does all of this matter?

Well, when your heart is not working correctly oxygen is not pumped to your major organs such as your brain.  This is when a condition with such a crazy name becomes as simple as life or death.    So how do we know if we are at risk of having a heart arrhythmia that will challenge your health?

A heart attack is the most important factor making someone a prone suspect.

If you have suffered a heart attack you are probably under doctor care and have regular EKG’s to monitor your heart.  But what if you have not had such a severe warning, what are some signs or symptoms?

–  fainting or dizziness

–  dificulty breathing

–  fatigue

–  “fluttering heart” feeling

–  flopping in your chest

–  thumping in your chest

–  chest pain

These are just a few, and if you suspect any of them, please seek medical help to begin monitoring your health.  There are many ways to treat and manage an arrhythmia.  Some are medications, pacemakers and keeping a record of your pulse.  Above all when in doubt follow your gut and see your doctor…then follow his/her advice.

Have a Heart Healthy Day!

Kristi Krouse

 

CPR Stats

Everyone can and should learn CPR; I think most everyone agrees with me on this one.  But did you know that most CPR statistics say 70% of people don’t feel capable of helping in a cardiac emergency because they were never trained or training has lapsed so far that they don’t remember.  To make matters worse, CPR statistics say 88% of cardiac emergencies happen at home…so the person you may not feel capable helping is most likely going to be a loved one!  This terrifies me!  I truly hope that everyone does something to learn more about CPR, for starters go here to do a one minute training on hands-only-CPR.  The American Heart Association has put together a great video so that you can learn something now in only one minute.  I just know the people you love are worth that! 🙂

Here are some CPR statistics the American Heart Association has put together for you:

WHY LEARN CPR?
Cardiac arrests are more common than you think, and they can happen to anyone at any time.
• Nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually, and 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home.
• Many victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors.
• Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack.
o Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic, which causes the heart to suddenly stop beating.
o A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is blocked. A heart attack may cause cardiac arrest.

WHO CAN YOU SAVE WITH CPR?
The life you save with CPR is mostly likely to be a loved one.
• Four out of five cardiac arrests happen at home.
• Statistically speaking, if called on to administer CPR in an emergency, the life you save is likely to be someone at home: a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend.
• African-Americans are almost twice as likely to experience cardiac arrest at home, work or in another public location than Caucasians, and their survival rates are twice as poor as for Caucasians.

WHY TAKE ACTION?
Failure to act in a cardiac emergency can lead to unnecessary deaths.
• Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.
• Sadly, less than eight percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive.
• The American Heart Association trains more than 12 million people in CPR annually, to equip Americans with the skills they need to perform bystander CPR.

Don’t be afraid to use the hands-only-CPR training you have learned, you can only help them.  Push hard, push fast, and call 911!

Have a Heart Healthy Day!

Kristi Krouse

Benefits of Donating Blood…for the Donor?!?

Yes! You heard me correct, there are many benefits of donating blood; especially for men and post menopausal women!
We all know that donating blood is very beneficial to the recipients.  But do you know how much?  Check this out…

Benefits of donating blood

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • More than 38,000 blood donations are needed every day.
  • A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S. (2006).
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.  Type O-negative blood (red cells) can be transfused to patients of all blood types. It is always in great demand and often in short supply.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • Sickle cell disease affects more than 80,000 people in the U.S., 98 percent of whom are African American. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • More than 1 million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

So what are the benefits of donating blood?    When you are donating blood, you are removing some of the iron the blood has in it. High iron levels in your blood can increase your risk of heart disease. Iron is known to speed the oxidation process of cholesterol, which is thought to possibly increase damage to your (very important) arteries.  This can lead to the all know CVD; cardiovascular disease and make you more susceptible to a heart attack, stroke, etc. Men who donate benefit even more than women simply because women have monthly mensuration which releases iron.

According to Victor Herbert, M.D in a CNN article., a hematologist at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, there are normally about 1,000 milligrams of iron stored in the average adult mans body but only about 300 milligrams in a premenopausal womans. Once women stop menstruating, however, their iron levels and their heart disease risk begin to climb, eventually matching that of men.

So how does donating blood work?  I have to be honest, I have never donated…and I have blood type…wait for it…O-.  Yep, most needed, most often in short supply, and if that was not enough, here comes my guilt…

  • Only 7 percent of people in the U.S. have O-negative blood type. O-negative blood type donors are universal donors as their blood can be given to people of all blood types.
  • Type O-negative blood is needed in emergencies before the patient’s blood type is known and with newborns who need blood.
  • Children being treated for cancer, premature infants and children having heart surgery need blood and platelets from donors of all types, especially type O-.

They had me at newborns…

No worries, I am making the trip to the blood bank!

So here is how it all works; or so they tell me.  Guess I will find out soon enough.

  • Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded.
  • Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments.
  • Every blood donor is given a mini-physical, checking the donor’s temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin to ensure it is safe for the donor to give blood.
  • The actual blood donation typically takes less than 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 min.
  • The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in his body. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation.
  • A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days, or double red cells every 112 days.
  • A healthy donor may donate platelets as few as 7 days apart, but a maximum of 24 times a year.
  • All donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before it can be released to hospitals.
  • Information you give to the American Red Cross during the donation process is confidential. It may not be released without your permission except as directed by law.

I could not believe it!  The actual needle part only takes 10 to 15 minutes!  I had no idea; they should advertise this.

So let me get this straight… I donate, I loose iron I don’t need, gain heart health, get a free physical, free snacks, (adult time…I am a mom of 3 wonderful children), and I could save up to 3 lives…why have I not done this.  After all I have been through labor 3 times; this has to be easier!

Well, I hope to see you there!

Donating blood

Have a Heart Healthy Day!
Kristi Krouse