Blog Posts

Select Safe Toys And Gifts This Holiday Season

December 3rd, 2021

December is a month of multiple religious and cultural celebrations. A tradition common to these celebrations is the giving of gifts to our loved ones, particularly our children. We all want to make our kids happy this holiday season. But before you give them that toy they’ve been asking for, make sure it’s safe. That’s the message of National Safe Toys and Gifts Month.

The US Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has established strict toy safety guidelines that include rigorous testing by independent, third-party laboratories, enforcing rigid lead and phthalate limits for toys, and imposing stringent standards to stop dangerous toys from reaching the marketplace and getting into children’s hands.

In spite of these efforts, thousands of children are injured every year as a result of playing with unsafe toys. A report released by the CPSC revealed that in 2020, there were nine deaths and nearly 150,000 emergency room visits for toy-related injuries in children ages 14 and younger.

Actually, those figures represent an ongoing decline in toy-related incidents compared to the past two years. In 2019, there were 14 toy-related deaths and 224,200 injuries. In 2018, there were 17 deaths and 226,100 injuries treated in US emergency rooms. Fortunately, more than 90 percent of the injured children were treated and released.

The most common toy-related injuries treated in emergency rooms included lacerations, contusions and abrasions, strains and sprains, fractures, internal injuries, ingestion of toys or toy parts, concussions, dislocations and puncture injuries. Nonmotorized scooters were associated with several of the reported deaths each year.

The best way to avoid a toy-related injury is to be proactive when selecting toys and gifts for your children. Before you buy, consult a watchdog website, such as toysafety.org, the website of World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.), for a list of recent toy recalls. But not all unsafe toys are recalled, so follow these tips before you purchase a toy:

• Read all instructions and warnings listed on the packaging.
• Ask yourself if the toy is appropriate for your child’s age and developmental abilities.
• Avoid buying toys with sharp edges, rigid points or spikes.
• Buy toys that can withstand impact and will not break into pieces that can be a choking hazard or cause other injuries,
• Look for the letters “ASTM” on the toy or packaging. That means the toy has met the safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
• Avoid toys that shoot, such as BB guns, or include parts that fly off.

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind this National Safe Toys and Gifts Month:

• Be sure the gifts you give are age appropriate. Playing with toys above a child’s age and level of maturity can lead to misuse and potential injury. Toy manufacturers list the age the toy is appropriate for on the packaging.
• Learn how to properly use the toy first, then teach your children how to use it.
• Buy quality toys. They might be more expensive, but high-quality materials are less likely to break into pieces and lead to injury.
• Inspect your children’s gifts as they open them to be sure they are safe before allowing them to play with the toys.
• If you give your children sports equipment, give them the appropriate protective gear for the sport as well, such as helmets for riding toys. Make sure the gear is sized to fit your child.
• A gift that includes art supplies should be labeled “non-toxic.”
• Keep small toys, “button” batteries and other potential choking hazards away from children under 3 years old.
• Keep deflated balloons away from children under 8. Immediately throw away balloons that won’t inflate or have popped.
• Discard plastic wrapping and other toy packaging right away before they become dangerous playthings for young children.

According to WATCH., online shoppers are at a disadvantage because they cannot physically inspect the toys before purchasing them. Unfortunately, there are some disreputable online retailers that may omit warnings and cautions and provide incomplete or misleading information regarding a toy’s safety. Further, unsafe and recalled toys can resurface on online websites.

If you shop for toys online, be sure to carefully inspect the toy and its packaging for obvious hazards before giving it to your child. “Don’t let your child unwrap a potential safety hazard this holiday season,” states Joan Lawrence of The Toy Association, a site for toy safety information. “By shopping smart, you can ensure safe play.”

Some Hard Facts About Stomach Cancer

December 2nd, 2021

Your stomach is a sac-like organ that plays an important role in the digestive process.

Stomach cancer develops when stomach cells begin to grow and divide out of control and form masses, or tumors. Most stomach cancers – about 90 to 95 percent – begin in the gland cells of the mucosa, the innermost lining of the stomach. These cancers, called adenocarcinomas, are typically what are referred to when talking about stomach cancer.

Also called gastric cancer, stomach cancer accounts for about 1.5 percent of all new cancers diagnosed each year in the US. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 26,560 new cases of stomach cancer will be diagnosed in 2021, and about 11,180 American men and women will die from it this year.

Stomach cancer typically grows slowly over several years. Many people with early stage stomach cancer have no symptoms. In most cases, symptoms aren’t apparent until the cancer has advanced, and they are often mistaken for those of a common stomach virus.

Symptoms of stomach cancer include: a feeling of fullness after eating small meals; heartburn or indigestion; nausea and vomiting, which may contain blood; unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, stomach pain above the navel; fatigue; bloating and difficulty swallowing.

Stomach cancer is caused by a genetic mutation in the cells of the stomach. Genes control how our cells function, and mutations in the genes of stomach cells cause the cells to grow rapidly and form tumors. Certain inherited cancer syndromes, such as hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC) and Lynch syndrome, have been linked to the development of stomach cancer as well.

In addition, certain factors have been identified that put you at increased risk for stomach cancer. These include: family history of stomach cancer, age (it’s more common in older adults), gender (it’s more common in men), smoking, obesity, blood type (it’s more common in people with Type A), alcohol abuse, infection from the Helicobacter pylori bacteria or Epstein-Barr virus, and a diet high in salty, smoked or pickled foods and low in fruits and vegetables.

To make a diagnosis of stomach cancer, your doctor will first review your medical history. The doctor will ask about your symptoms and background to determine if you have any risk factors. The doctor will also perform a physical exam and will likely order some diagnostic tests, which may include:

• Blood tests – These tests can reveal signs of cancer in your body
Upper endoscopy – By placing an endoscope — a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera attached to its end – down your throat, your doctor can examine your stomach and take samples of tumor cells for testing (biopsy).
Upper GI series – You drink a chalky liquid with a substance called barium, which coats your stomach and makes it more visible on x-ray.
• CT scan – This imaging test creates detailed x-ray pictures of your stomach and surrounding tissues.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan – A special camera is used to take pictures of your stomach after you ingest a radioactive form of sugar, which collects in cancer cells.
Endoscopic ultrasound – An ultrasound probe is attached to an endoscope to obtain images of your digestive tract, including your stomach, and nearby organs and tissues.

Treatment for stomach cancer depends on how far your cancer has spread and your overall health, as well as your preferences. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

Surgical procedures for stomach cancer include endoscopic mucosal resection, the removal of tumors from the mucosa through an endoscope, subtotal gastrectomy, the removal of part of the stomach, and total gastrectomy, the removal of the entire stomach.

Chemotherapy uses medication to stop rapidly growing cancer cells from dividing and multiplying. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells. These therapies may be used before surgery to shrink tumors or after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells around the stomach.

Targeted therapy recognizes and attacks specific proteins produced by cancer cells. It affects fewer healthy cells than are destroyed by chemotherapy. Immunotherapy uses certain medicines to encourage your own immune system cells to attack and kill cancer cells.

The outlook for people with stomach cancer depends on how far the cancer has spread when it is diagnosed and treated. People whose cancer is found in its early stages have a much better prognosis than those with late-stage cancer.

If the cancer is localized to the stomach and can be removed with an endoscope, the five-year survival rate is greater than 90 percent. But if it has spread to areas surrounding the stomach, the five-year survival rate drops to 28 percent. If the stomach cancer has spread to areas beyond those surrounding the stomach, the five-year survival rate is 4 percent.

There’s no sure-fire way to prevent stomach cancer, but there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk for developing it:

• Get to and maintain a healthy weight.
• Get regular physical activity.
• Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat and processed foods.
• Don’t smoke.
• Treat Helicobacter pylori infection
• Limit alcohol consumption.

Hand-y Tips for Staying Healthy

December 1st, 2021

We all know that bacteria and viruses, including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, trigger infections that can be serious and even life-threatening. These germs are easily spread when you touch contaminated objects or surfaces and then touch your nose, mouth or eyes, where the malicious microbes can enter your body and make you ill.

Consider all the objects you touch in a typical day. These may include doorknobs, elevator buttons, door handles, ATM keys, touchscreens and your cellphone, to name a few. When you touch these objects, any germs on their surfaces are transferred to your hands. Then your touch your face.

Think you don’t? The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology estimates that people touch their face at least 23 times an hour!

Frequent handwashing is a powerful tool for avoiding getting sick and spreading germs to others. December 1-7 is National Handwashing Awareness Week. It’s an excellent opportunity for us to take our mothers’ admonitions to heart and revisit the healthy habit of washing our hands.

Handwashing can protect you from COVID-19, respiratory infections such as pneumonia and gastric infections that cause diarrhea. These conditions can be deadly to some people, including older individuals, those with weakened immune systems, infants and children. In fact, about 1.8 million children under age 5 die each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, which are the top two killers of children worldwide.

Educating people about proper handwashing has been shown to reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23 to 40 percent. It can also reduce respiratory illnesses, including colds, by 16 to 23 percent. Further, it cuts down absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29 to 57 percent.

It’s important to wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet and changing a baby’s diaper because feces can get on your hands. Studies show that a single gram of human feces, which is about the weight of a paper clip, can contain one trillion germs! Other times you should wash your hands include:

• When your hands are visible dirty
• Before, during and after preparing food
• Before eating
• Before and after caring for a sick person
• Before and after treating a burn or wound
• Before changing contact lenses
• After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
• After touching or feeding your pet, walking your dog and handling animal waste
• After touching garbage
• After handling money

Washing your hands with soap and water has been found to eliminate more germs that washing with water alone. The steps for washing hands effectively include:

  1. Rinse your hands under clean running water at a comfortable temperature. Warm water isn’t more effective at killing germs than cold water.
  2. Apply the soap of your choice. It doesn’t matter if you use bar soap, liquid or foam. Antibacterial soap is not necessary to use every day outside of health care facilities.
  3. Lather up for 20 seconds, Be sure to get in between your fingers, on the back of your hands and wrists, and under your nails, where germs collect
  4. Rinse and dry thoroughly with a clean towel.
  5. If you are using a public restroom, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and turn the door handle when leaving.

When running water and soap aren’t available, you can clean your hands on the go using a hand sanitizer. Be sure to choose one that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Ethanol alcohol and isopropyl alcohol ate both acceptable types.

When using a hand sanitizer, place the amount recommended by the manufacturer on your hands and vigorously rub it into both hands. Make sure to cover all areas, including your wrists and under your nails. Continue rubbing until your hands air dry.

If frequent handwashing dries your skin, consider using a moisturizing soap, such as glycerin, or a hand cream or lotion after washing to keep your skin smooth and moist.

Washing your hands only takes 20 seconds. It may be the best time you devote to your health, and the health of others.

Hints for Handling Holiday Stress

November 30th, 2021

The holidays are upon us. But along with the holidays comes a dizzying array of demands on our time and energy. These demands include planning and preparing meals, baking, shopping, cleaning, attending holiday events and entertaining guests.

Family celebrating the holidays

This season is supposed to be a joyous time full of celebrations with family and friends. But often, we set impossibly high expectations for our holiday celebrations that cannot be reached, making this one of the most stressful times of the year for many people.

According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of people reported that their stress level increases during the holidays. In another survey, 53 percent indicated that they feel financially stressed by holiday spending. And more than half of the respondents in that survey noted that they had created budgets for their spending.

Stress can ruin your holiday celebrations and harm your health, so it’s important to recognize its presence in your life. Stress has physical and emotional symptoms. Look out for these physical symptoms of stress, which include:

  • Body aches and pains
  • Headaches, dizziness or shaking
  • Chest pain or a feeling that your heart is racing
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Stomachaches or other digestive problems
  • Sexual dysfunction

Emotional signs of stress include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Memory and concentration difficulties
  • Mood swings

But don’t get discouraged. With a little self-awareness and planning, you can avoid becoming overly stressed this holiday season. Here are just a few hints to help you handle the high expectations of this time of year and stay mentally and physically stress-free:

  • Set realistic expectations. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or repeats of past years’ successes. As families grow, traditions evolve. Choose a few time-honored traditions to carry on and be open to beginning new traditions as your family’s dynamics change.
  • Don’t lose sight of what really counts. When you get frustrated by long lines in the stores or heavy traffic, use the time to reflect on the good things that happened to you that day or the many things in your life that you’re grateful for. Make frustrating moments pleasant by looking at the environment around you with fresh, positive eyes.
  • Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting with friends and other activities. Plan your holiday menu, make a list and then go shopping to avoid last-minute trips to the store for forgotten ingredients. Consider shopping online to save a trip to an overcrowded mall, which can be stressful.
  • Accept that you can’t do it all. There are a million things to do during the holidays and only so much time. Remember that you are only one person and can only accomplish certain things. Acknowledge that you can’t attend every holiday event. It’s OK to say “No” to your neighbor’s holiday party invitation. They’ll understand. They’re facing holiday stress just as you are.
  • Don’t overspend. Create a budget and stick to it. Decide how much money you can afford to spend on gifts and food before you go shopping. Set aside the amount of money you’ve dedicated to each person’s gift in an envelope with the person’s name on it and stay within that limit. When shopping, consider leaving your credit and debit cards at home and only spending the amount of cash you have on hand.
  • Respond with kindness. You can’t change how others act but you can change how you respond to them. Keep in mind that the holidays are a particularly difficult time for people who are alone. During this holiday season, consider extending a kind act, such as visiting or providing a meal, to someone you know has no family or friends.
  • Take care of yourself. Don’t forget your healthy lifestyle habits. Eat right, exercise regularly and get sufficient sleep. It may be a challenge to maintain these habits during the bustling holiday season but taking care of yourself helps keep your body and mind primed to deal with stress. And don’t overindulge on food or alcohol during the holidays. It only causes guilt and adds to your stress.
  • Take a break. Take a few minutes for yourself to be alone and recharge your batteries. Go for a walk, listen to your favorite music or read a book. You’ll feel refreshed and others will benefit as well when you’re feeling less stressed and more focused. 
  • Seek help. Accepting support from friends and family can help you manage holiday stress. But if you feel persistently sad or anxious, depressed, irritable or hopeless, or if you are unable to sleep or perform everyday tasks due to stress, seek your doctor or a mental health professional’s help.    

Manatee Memorial Hospital Offering New Heart Care Treatment

November 16th, 2021

Manatee Memorial Hospital is now offering patients with severely calcified coronary artery disease a new treatment that uses sonic pressure waves to safely break up calcium blockages that can reduce blood flow in the heart.

The new shockwave technology, known clinically as intravascular lithotripsy or IVL, allows physicians to fracture the problematic calcium and safely expand the artery so that blood flow can be restored through the placement of a stent without unnecessary complications.

S. Jay Mathews, MD, performed the first IVL procedure with the help of Manatee Memorial Hospital’s Heart and Vascular team in August. James Nguyen, MD, Anthony Pizzo, MD, Enrique Rivera, MD, Jeffrey Rossi, MD, and Gino Sedillo, MD, are also trained in this procedure. Currently, the hospital has completed 55 procedures.

“Our cardiology team is steadfast in its commitment to give our patients access to the latest cardiovascular innovations to treat heart disease,” said Tom McDougal, CEO, Manatee Memorial Hospital. “It is exciting to be able to offer this treatment option to our patients with severely calcified coronary artery disease.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, more than 600,000 people in the United States die of heart disease.

As people with heart disease, specifically coronary artery disease, grow older and their disease progresses, plaque in the arteries evolves into calcium deposits, which can narrow the artery.

Physicians often use stents to open an artery, and of the approximately 1million patients that undergo a stent procedure each year, 30 percent have problematic calcium that increases their risk for adverse events.

“Our cardiology team is steadfast in our commitment to give our patients access to the latest cardiovascular innovations to treat heart disease. It is exciting to be able to offer this treatment option to our patients with severely calcified coronary artery disease.”

Tom McDougal
CEO
Manatee Memorial Hospital

Calcium makes the artery rigid and more difficult to reopen with conventional treatments, including balloons, which attempt to crack the calcium when inflated to high pressure, and atherectomy, which drills through the calcium to open the artery.         

While atherectomy has been available for several decades, its use remains low, as it can result in complications for patients who are undergoing stent procedures. 

Manatee Memorial Hospital, a member of the Manatee Healthcare System, has served the residents of Manatee and surrounding counties for over 68 years. The hospital opened a new Emergency Care Center in December 2018 to accommodate our growing community and the first Interventional Radiology Suite with biplane in Manatee County, in January 2019 to support advanced stroke care and vascular disease.

The hospital’s range of medical services includes emergency medicine for all ages; cardiac; cardiovascular; stroke; surgical; orthopedics; outpatient and inpatient radiology services; rehabilitation; respiratory care; sleep services; oncology; wound care and women’s and children’s services including the only Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the county. For more information visit www.manateememorial.com.

Physicians are on the medical staff of Manatee Memorial Hospital, but, with limited exceptions, are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Manatee Memorial Hospital. The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians. For language assistance, disability accommodations and the non-discrimination notice, visit our website.

Ask Me About Alzheimer’s Disease

November 15th, 2021

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia, a group of disorders characterized by brain changes that lead to a decrease in memory, language, problem-solving and thinking abilities, as well as behavior changes that can impair your daily functioning. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases.

Alzheimer’s disease is more common in older adults. It is estimated that 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease today. And unless a cure or a way to prevent the disease is discovered, the number of American affected by it could balloon to nearly 14 million by 2060.

According to the National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. But, other recent data suggest it may be the third leading cause of death, just behind heart disease and cancer.

Alzheimer’s disease most often affects people 65 and older, but it can also affect people in their 30s, 40s and 50s. This is called early-onset Alzheimer’s disease or younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. This type affects about 5 percent of all people with the disease or around 200,000 US adults under age 65.

The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, but certain factors increase your risk for developing the condition. Risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease include: Age, family history, genetics (certain genes have been linked to both late-onset and early-onset forms of the disease), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and obesity.

Among the complex brain changes that occur with Alzheimer’s disease, the development of the condition is associated with an abnormal build-up of proteins in the brain called beta-amyloid and tau. It is believed that amyloid protein builds up and forms masses called plaques and twisted fibers of tau form into tangles. These plaques and tangles interfere with communication between brain cells, which prevents normal brain function and leads to symptoms.

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease generally present gradually, and the effects on the brain are degenerative. This results in a slow, progressive decline in your condition. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Memory loss that impacts daily life
  • Inability to learn new things
  • Trouble with familiar tasks
  • Difficulty with problem-solving
  • Trouble with speech or writing
  • Disorientation with time or places
  • Impaired judgement or reasoning
  • Difficulty recognizing family or friends
  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and community
  • Hallucinations, delusions or paranoia

Alzheimer’s disease can be definitively diagnosed only after death, when the doctor can actually visualize the plaques and tangles in your brain tissue. Your doctor can make a presumptive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease while you are alive.

There is no single test for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. Your doctor will begin by asking you about your experiences, symptoms and medical history. The doctor will perform a physical and neurological exam to rule out other medical causes for your symptoms such as infection or stroke.

Your doctor may order imaging tests to get a clearer picture of your brain. These tests may include CT, which can show abnormal characteristic in your brain; MRI, which can reveal inflammation and bleeding, as well as structural issues; and PET, which can help your doctor detect abnormal activity in your brain.

Blood tests may also be recommended to look for specific genes that are linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Currently, there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but there are medications that can help ease the symptoms and temporarily delay disease progression. Donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine (Razadyne) work to maintain high levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine helps nerve cells communicate so the brain functions better. These medications are often used in early to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

If you have moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease, your doctor may prescribe memantine (Namenda), which helps block the effects of glutamine. Glutamine is a brain chemical that is released in high amounts in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Glutamine damages brain cells; blocking it keeps brain cells healthier.

Many people with Alzheimer’s disease experience behavior-related symptoms as well, such as depression, anxiety, restlessness, aggression, agitation, paranoia and hallucinations. Your doctor may prescribe antidepressant, antianxiety, anticonvulsant or antipsychotic medications to treat these symptoms.

Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but practicing healthy lifestyle habits may help you avoid cognitive decline. The following measures have been suggested: quit smoking, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, eat a plant-based diet, consume more antioxidants, try cognitive training exercises and maintain an active social life.

The prognosis for people with Alzheimer’s disease varies from person to person. On average, people with Alzheimer’s disease live four to eight years after diagnosis, but some can live as long as 20 years after diagnosis.

Defending Against Diabetes

November 9th, 2021

November is American Diabetes Month. Let’s get up to speed on this common disorder.

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition that affects how your body uses food for energy. When you eat, your body breaks down the food into a simple sugar called glucose, which enters your body’s cells with the help of insulin, a hormone produced by special beta cells in your pancreas. When the amount of glucose in your blood increases, it signals the pancreas to release insulin.

With diabetes, either your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or your body stops responding to the insulin made, a condition called insulin resistance. When this occurs, too much glucose accumulates in your blood, called hyperglycemia. Untreated hyperglycemia can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage and vision loss.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34.2 million US adults have diabetes, and one in five don’t know they have it. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US and the number one cause of kidney failure, lower limb amputations and adult blindness. The number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled in the last 20 years.

There are three main types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the beta cells in your pancreas, so no insulin gets produced. The reason for the attack is not known, but genetics may play a role. It’s also possible that a virus sets off the immune system’s attack.

Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children and teens but can occur at any age. People with this type of diabetes must take insulin every day to stay alive.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body develops insulin resistance and glucose builds up in your blood. It’s the most common type of diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of diabetes cases. You can develop Type 2 diabetes at any age but it’s most often diagnosed in people ages 45 and older. A combination of genetics and lifestyle factors are believed to cause this type of diabetes.

You are at a greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes if you are overweight; have a family history of diabetes; have a family history of high blood pressure; have had gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds; are African-American, Native-American, Latin-American or Asian-Pacific Islander or live a sedentary lifestyle.

In many cases, Type 2 diabetes can be managed by controlling your weight, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Sometimes, people with Type 2 diabetes must take medication or inject insulin to control their blood glucose levels.

Gestational diabetes occurs in women who are pregnant and usually resolves after they give birth. It develops when the placenta produces hormones that make your cells less sensitive to the effects of insulin. If you have gestational diabetes, your baby is at a higher risk for health problems, such as excessive birth weight, early (preterm) birth, breathing problems, low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) and even stillbirth.

Further, you and your baby are at a greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Treatment for gestational diabetes typically includes special meal plans and scheduled physical activity. You may have to inject insulin if you cannot manage your glucose level with diet and exercise alone.

If you have any type of diabetes, it’s important that you check your blood glucose level frequently throughout the day.

Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood glucose level is elevated but not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. In the US, 88 million adults, more than one in three, have prediabetes, and 84 percent of them don’t know they have it. Having prediabetes raises your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Each type of diabetes has its own symptoms, but there are some general symptoms. These include increased hunger, increased thirst, weight loss, frequent urination, blurry vision, extreme fatigue and sores that don’t heal.

There are certain blood tests your doctor will use to make a diagnosis of prediabetes and diabetes. The fasting plasma glucose test measures your blood glucose after you’ve not eaten anything for eight hours. The A1c test provides a view of your blood glucose levels over the previous three months.

The glucose challenge test checks your blood glucose level an hour after you drink a sugary liquid, and the glucose tolerance test checks your glucose level after you fast overnight and then drink a sugary liquid.

Women who are pregnant are typically tested for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th weeks of their pregnancy.

If you eat a healthy diet, control your weight, exercise regularly and follow your doctor’s instructions for taking any medications, if required, you can successfully manage your diabetes and live a full and active life.

SIDS: A Silent Killer

October 28th, 2021

October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month. Want to learn more about SIDS? Read on.

First of all, SIDS is the name given to the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby less than 1 year old. SIDS is sometimes called crib death because it usually occurs when babies are asleep in their cribs. SIDS is a silent killer.

About 2,300 babies die of SIDS each year in the US. It is the most common cause of death in babies between the ages of 2 weeks to 1 year. It most often occurs in babies between 2 months and 4 months old. It occurs more often in African-American and Native American babies than in Caucasian babies and is slightly more common in boys than in girls.

SIDS doesn’t have any recognizable symptoms. It happens suddenly and unexpectantly to babies that appear healthy. A diagnosis of SIDS is one of exclusion. The diagnosis is generally made if no clear cause of death can be determined after a thorough investigation that includes an autopsy.

There are certain factors that increase your baby’s risk of dying from SIDS. The most important risk factor is laying your baby down to sleep on his or her stomach or side rather than their back. Other factors that increase your baby’s risk include:

• Having a family history of SIDS
• Being overheated with blankets or a high room temperature
• Co-sleeping (sharing a bed with a parent or caretaker)
• Having a mattress that’s too soft and having soft objects in the crib, such as stuffed toys, bumper pads, quilts and pillows
• Being born prematurely or having a low birth weight
• Having a mother younger than 20 years old
• Having a mother who received inadequate or no prenatal care
• Having a mother who smoked, drank alcohol or took drugs during pregnancy
• Being exposed to secondhand smoke

The cause of SIDS is unknown but researchers are studying certain theories. Many researchers believe that SIDS is related to your baby’s inability to arouse from sleep when not getting sufficient oxygen from breathing. As a result, carbon dioxide builds up in the baby’s bloodstream. A high level of carbon dioxide can lead to death. Some researchers believe this occurs because the center in your baby’s brain that controls arousal is not fully developed.

The proposed “Triple-Risk Model” suggests that three factors combine to cause SIDS. This theory holds that SIDS occurs when an underlying brain abnormality and a triggering event, such as a poor sleep position (sleeping on the stomach), occur during a vulnerable stage in your baby’s development, essentially the first six months of his or her life.

It may be frightening to know that there’re no symptoms to be alert for and no clear cause of SIDS, so there’s no way to prevent it from happening to your baby. But there are some tips for reducing your baby’s risk for SIDS. These include:

  • Lay your baby on his or her back when putting him or her down for a nap and at night.
  • Avoid overheating your baby. Don’t tightly swaddle your baby in a blanket and keep the room temperature at a level that’s comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.
  • Don’t co-sleep with your baby or let your baby sleep with other children or adults.
  • Choose a firm, safety-approved mattress for your baby’s crib and place a fitted sheet over it.
  • Keep toys, bumper pads, fluffy blankets, quilts and pillows out of your baby’s crib when he or she is sleeping.
  • Don’t smoke, drink or take drugs while you are pregnant and if you are breastfeeding.
  • Get proper prenatal care during pregnancy.
  • Don’t let anyone smoke around your baby.
  • Set up your baby’s sleep area close to you but separate from your bedroom or those of your baby’s siblings.

In addition, make sure everyone who cares for your baby – including grandparents and other relatives, babysitters and friends – knows these recommendations. And consider sharing these tips with other parents and caregivers of young babies during Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month and all year long.

Concerning Sudden Cardiac Arrest

October 19th, 2021

A sudden cardiac arrest, or SCA, is sometimes referred to as a “massive heart attack,” but that moniker is not quite accurate. It’s true that SCA affects the heart, but it’s not a true heart attack. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of the heart is stopped or slowed, generally due to a blockage in the coronary arteries, causing the death of heart muscle tissue.

Generally, there are signs and symptoms signaling a heart attack, and in most cases those hearts continue to beat after the event. But with SCA, people just collapse and discontinue breathing, and their hearts simply stop beating. A very serious heart attack can lead to SCA, but most SCAs are caused by problems in the rhythm of the heartbeats.

Most of the body’s electrical activity is handled by nerves, but the heart has its own unique electrical system. In the heart, electricity is generated in special pacemaker cells in the atrium, or upper chamber, and is then carried through designated pathways to the heart muscle cells. The cells then all contract at once to produce a heartbeat.

If there is an interruption anywhere along that electrical pathway, the heartbeat can become faster, slower or erratic. The most common cause of SCA is ventricular fibrillation, a very fast or chaotic heart rhythm, or arrhythmia. While ventricular fibrillation is most common, any arrhythmia can cause the heart to stop beating.

Most people at risk for SCA have coronary artery disease (CAD), although some don’t even know they have it. There are other pre-existing heart conditions that can lead to SCA, including cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart, valvular heart disease and a congenital heart condition, a problem that is present since birth.

Some other factors that put you at risk for SCA include the risk factors for CAD. These include being a smoker; having diabetes, high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol; being overweight or obese; and living a sedentary lifestyle. Drinking more than two drinks a day is another CAD risk factor, as is having a family history of the disease.

Other risk factors for SCA include having had a previous SCA or having a family history of SCA. If you’ve had a heart attack or have a family history of heart disease, your risk for SCA increases. The risk also goes up with getting older, being male, using recreational drugs like cocaine and amphetamines, and having low levels of potassium or magnesium in your system.

Blunt force trauma, like what can occur in a car accident or after taking a direct blow to the chest, can also trigger SCA. This is called commotio cordis. Strenuous physical activity can trigger SCA, but in most cases, there is an underlying heart problem that the people doing the activity may or may not be aware of. This is often the case when athletes in top physical condition experience SCA.

Most people with SCA, about 95 percent, die, often within minutes. Rapid treatment of someone suffering SCA is critical not only for that person’s survival, but also to minimize damage to the brain from being without oxygenated blood. Because when the heart stops beating, blood flow to the rest of the body ceases.

The chances of a positive outcome increase dramatically if the person’s receives CPR and treatment with a defibrillator within minutes. Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are available in more and more public places, including shopping malls, busses, parks and schools. You can even get an AED for your home, but talk to your doctor before you buy.

AEDs are devices that analyze the heart and if they detect a problem deliver an electrical shock to restore the heart’s normal rhythm. They are designed for use by laypeople and provide visual and voice prompts. They will only shock the heart when necessary to restore normal rhythm.

If you witness someone experiencing SCA, call, 911 immediately, then check to see if the person is breathing. If they’re not, begin chest compressions. If an AED happens to be available, use it on the unconscious, unbreathing person. Follow the instructions and prompts provided with the AED. Use the AED once, then continue chest compressions until emergency personnel arrive.

SCAs happen without notice, so they can’t be diagnosed until after they occur. There are, however, tests to diagnose contributory disorders and steps to reduce the impact of some risk factors. Having routine appointments and physicals with your doctor and getting appropriate screenings when required can help alert you to potential risk factors for SCA.

If you survive SCA or are at very high risk for SCA, your doctor may choose to place an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). An ICD is placed under the skin in your chest wall, with wires that attach to the heart. The ICD works like a pacemaker. When it detects a dangerous arrhythmia, it sends a shock to the heart to restore the natural rhythm.

Your doctor may also prescribe medication, especially if you’ve had a heart attack or if you have heart failure or an arrhythmia. Types of medications include ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and other anti-arrhythmia drugs. If you’ve got high cholesterol and CAD, your doctor may also prescribe a statin medication for lowering your cholesterol levels.

If you’re aware of a heart condition or other risk factors for SCA, you can help yourself by making some lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of CAD and SCA. Lifestyle behaviors to put into practice in your life include quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating a low-fat diet and managing diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions.

For the best outcome in the case of SCA, treatment must be started within minutes of the event. If someone you love is at high risk for SCA, do them a favor and learn the proper techniques for CPR. The American Heart Association and many hospitals and health organizations routinely offer classes you can sign up for.

Think about learning CPR. You can save someone’s life.

Breast Cancer Basics

October 11th, 2021

It’s October, and we all know that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Look around. See all the pink ribbons? The color pink is a reminder to learn the basics of breast cancer and then get screened. And men, don’t think this doesn’t apply to you. Though it’s much more common in women, breast cancer affects men, too.

Consider these facts. About one in eight American women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Only lung cancer kills more women each year.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in American women in 2021. In addition, 49,290 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ) will be diagnosed. Sadly, about 43,600 women are expected to die from breast cancer this year.

Further, the American Cancer Society estimates that about 2,650 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in American men in 2021, and about 530 men will die as a result. A man’s lifetime risk for developing breast cancer is about one in 833.

Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast start growing uncontrollably. Most of the time, but not always, these extra cells collect and form tumors. These are the lumps that can often be detected in the breast on your self-exams or mammograms.

A new lump in your breast or armpit is one symptom of breast cancer, but there are others as well. You might notice thickening or swelling of an area of your breast, or irritation or dimpling of your breast skin. Look for red or flaky skin near the nipple, as well as secretions from the nipple other than breast milk. Changes in the size and shape of your breast, and pain in any area of the breast are other breast cancer symptoms.

If you have any of these symptoms, visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis.

Breast cancer is the result of a mutation, or abnormal change, in the genes that regulate the growth and reproduction of breast cells. About 5 percent to 10 percent of breast cancers are inherited, or caused by mutations passed on from your parents. The rest are caused by abnormal changes that occur as the result of aging and life in general.

That makes getting older a risk factor for breast cancer, one you can’t do anything about. Other risk factors for breast cancer you cannot control include getting your period before age 12 and menopause after 55, having dense breasts, having a personal or family history of breast cancer and having been treated with radiation therapy.

There are also risk factors for breast cancer you can control, things like being physically inactive, being overweight, drinking a lot of alcohol and taking hormones. In addition, having your first baby after age 30, not breastfeeding and never having a full-term pregnancy can also increase your risk for breast cancer.

You can’t change your age or your genes, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk for breast cancer. A few of these suggestions are no-brainers. We already know that we should maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and limit our alcohol consumption to one drink a day.

These suggestions you may not have heard. For one, think hard and have a heart-to-heart discussion with your doctor about the risks of taking the Pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT). They may not be right for you. If you have a baby, consider breastfeeding, if you’re able. If you have a family history or a genetic mutation, talk to your doctor about ways you can lessen your breast cancer risk.

With breast cancer, as with most cancers, early detection is critical to treatment success. It’s best to find it before the cancer cells have had a chance to invade the nearby lymph nodes and spread to other areas of the body. Maintaining a routine screening schedule can assist with early detection.

The first part of the screening process is regular breast self-exams. You know the look and feel of your breasts, so you’re likely to notice changes such as lumps, pain, or differences in size or shape. You should also get routine clinical breast exams by a doctor or nurse, who use their hands to feel for lumps in your breasts.

The next step is to get a mammogram. The American Cancer Society’s Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines recommend that women begin yearly mammograms by age 45. They can switch to having mammograms every other year at age 55. If lumps are detected, your doctor may perform a biopsy to determine if their cells are cancerous.

If cancer is detected, there are many approaches to treating it. Doctors often use more than one approach on each patient.

Chemotherapy is a common approach. It uses drugs to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Surgery, called mastectomy, is often used to remove the breasts and the tumors. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays directed at the spot of the cancer to kill cancer cells. Unfortunately, chemotherapy and radiation therapy have uncomfortable side effects.

Doctors use additional treatment approaches including hormonal therapy, which doesn’t allow the cancer cells to get the hormones they need to survive. Another approach is biological therapy, which works with the immune system, your body’s natural defense against disease. Biological therapy helps the immune system fight the cancer. It also helps control the side effects of other cancer treatments.

Breast cancer is the subject of much research, and if you’re interested, you can participate in a clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of new drugs and treatments. To find a clinical trial near you, ask your doctor or go to clinicaltrials.gov.

Now, you know the basics of breast cancer. Put on something pink and share what you’ve learned!

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