6 Ways To Care For Your Spouse After A Heart Attack

Your spouse suffered a heart attack. It was frightening. Maybe one of the scariest moments of your life. Thankfully, he survived. Now that he’s home, you’re wondering how to best take care of him.

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1. Take Care of Yourself.

MtnStar_MTNVIEW_6WaysToCareForYourSpouseAfterAHeartAttack_02It may seem strange to think about your own health after your spouse suffered a heart attack. But you’ll best be able to take care of your spouse if you’re in good health.

Caregivers Are At Higher Risk For Mental And Physical Health Issues

● 40-70% of caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression.

● Caregivers’ hearts react more to stressful conditions, putting them at greater risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.

● Caregivers have diminished immune response, which leads to frequent infection and increased risk of cancers.

● Caregivers have a 23% higher level of stress hormones and a 15% lower level of antibody responses.

Don’t put off your own healthcare needs. Take this opportunity to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle together.

Source: Family Caregiver Alliance

2. Rally Support.

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Depending on her condition after the heart attack, your spouse may require a lot of time and attention. This can be very draining for you emotionally and physically. Don’t try to do it all yourself.

Get the physical and emotional support you need to maintain your health and the health of your spouse.

Let your family and friends know about her condition and how they can help. Ask a family member to cook a healthy meal once a week or to drive your spouse to a doctor’s appointment. Or ask a friend for a listening ear.

3. Remind Him To Take His Medication.

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After your spouse’s heart attack, the doctor will most likely prescribe some type of medication. Some medications prescribed after a heart attack lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, relieve chest pain (angina), or reduce risk of blood clots forming. If taking medication on a daily basis is new for your spouse, he may need reminders.

Be creative. Set alerts on his cellphone or stick notes on the bathroom mirror or refrigerator door. Whatever will get his attention and remind him to take his meds. These meds are important. They may prevent future heart attacks or stroke.

4. Know The Signs Of A Heart Attack And When To Call 9-1-1.

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Unfortunately, if your spouse had one heart attack, her chances of having another are higher. And symptoms for a second heart attack may look different than the first.

Signs of a heart attack include:

● Chest pain lasting more than a few minutes

● Cold sweat

● Lightheadedness

● Nausea (more common in women)

● Numbness, aching, or tingling in the arm (usually the left arm)

● Shortness of breath

● Weakness or fatigue

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It’s important to understand how angina (chest pain) and a heart attack differ. Angina is chest pain usually brought on by physical exertion. This type of pain goes away in a few minutes after resting or taking medication. Pain from a heart attack is more severe and doesn’t go away with rest or medication.

If you’re unsure whether the pain is a heart attack or angina, call 9-1-1. The faster your spouse gets medical attention, the better his chances of survival and recovery.

Source: National Institutes of Health 1, 2

5. Encourage A Healthy Lifestyle.

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The good news is that cardiovascular disease can be fought by making healthy lifestyle choices. Join your spouse in the new healthy lifestyle so you both can benefit.

1. Eat a healthy diet. This means lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fish. Limit salt, added sugars, saturated fats, and red meat. Avoid trans fats.

2. Stay active. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, five or more days a week. This can lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and keep weight at a healthy level. If you’re not used to exercise, start with 10 minutes a day, then work your way up.

3. Limit alcohol consumption.

Source: American Heart Association

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4. Find ways to manage stress. Stress is an everyday part of life. If left unchecked, it could put you and your spouse at greater risk for disease.

Healthy Ways To Manage Stress

● Talk with family or friends.

● Take up yoga or meditation.

● Try journaling.

● Get regular exercise.

● Sleep six to eight hours a night.

● Remember to laugh.

5. Maintain a healthy weight. Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of fat in your body. A BMI between 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy.

6. Quit smoking.

Source: American Heart Association

6. Ask Your Doctor About Having Sex.

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Your sex life may be a real concern to you and your spouse. You’re not alone. Many couples have this concern after a heart attack.

Don’t be afraid to bring up this topic with your doctor. It’s probably okay to have sex if your spouse’s condition has stabilized. Your doctor will be the best person to give you the assurance and advice you need.

Source: American Heart Association

To learn more about life after a heart attack, schedule an appointment with a Mountain View physician today.

Posted in Cardiovascular Procedures, Heart Health, Men's Health, Women's Health | Leave a comment

Viral Infections: Should You Send Your Kids to School?

There’s been a lot of hoopla surrounding the recent respiratory illness enterovirus 68 outbreak. A lot of parents are worried about what this means for their children.

If you’re one of those parents, you may wonder: Is it okay to send your child to school if he’s got a runny nose? The sniffles? A cough?

All of these are symptoms of a number of viral infections, ranging from the common cold to the potentially fatal enterovirus 68—the respiratory virus that has hospitalized 30 kids in Missouri and Illinois in August alone.

Here’s what you should know about viral infections:

What Is a Viral Infection?

As their name implies, viral infections come from bugs called viruses. Viruses are little capsule-like objects found inside genetic material—such as a person’s cells, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) explains. They are many, many times smaller than bacteria.

But when it comes to illnesses, size doesn’t matter. Viruses are the cause behind diseases ranging from the common cold to smallpox.

How Viruses Get You Sick

The fact that they live inside your body’s own cells is what makes viral infections so difficult to treat, the CDC says. They use your cells to protect themselves against medicine, which is why antibiotics don’t work.

The good news is that vaccines—like the flu vaccine—can protect you from viruses. But not all viruses have vaccines.

How Are Viral Infections Spread?

Some viral infections—like the common cold—are spread by contact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains.

Enterovirus D68 is no different.

When someone with the infection coughs or sneezes, their germs spread to anything they come in contact with—from a tabletop or door handle to another person.

You Can Prevent the Spread of Viral Germs

 

So, Should You Send Your Kids to School?

If your child has a viral infection, keep her home from school. If you find out that someone in your child’s class has a Enterovirus D68 or some other viral infection, ask the school how they are ensuring that other students don’t become infected.

The Common Cold Is the Main Reason Kids Miss School

 

 

The NIAID says you can help prevent the spread of viral infections if your child is sick by having him:

●     Stay home from school and other activities while sick

●     Avoid close contact with others—hugging, kissing, shaking hands, etc.

●     Move away from other people when coughing or sneezing

●     Cough or sneeze into a tissue

●     Wash his hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing his nose

If you’re unsure whether your child has a viral infection, you may contact one of the many physicians that work at Mountain View Hospital, just in case.

 

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3 Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor If You’re Having Twins

When you’re pregnant with multiples, it may seem like you have more than just twice the amount of baby supplies to purchase. You also have more factors to take into consideration when preparing for your labor and delivery.

That’s because pregnancies with multiples come with a higher risk for certain conditions, including preeclampsia, preterm labor and delivery, delivery via c-section and low birth weight, says the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Knowing what to expect can help ease your nerves. Here’s what you should know about labor and delivery with multiples.

1) How can I reduce the risk of preeclampsia?

Moms of multiples are at a higher risk for developing preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition marked by high blood pressure and protein in your urine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) explains. It’s sometimes also called toxemia, says the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART).

According to the SART, mothers of multiples are two to five times more likely to develop preeclampsia and it tends to be more severe.

15 to 20% of women who are pregnant with twins will develop preeclampsia  Source: Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology

The causes of preeclampsia are still unknown, but it can lead to long-term health effects for babies, from learning disorders to blindness, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation.

The American Pregnancy Association (APA) explains that you can reduce your risk of developing preeclampsia by:

●     Cutting back on salt

●     Drinking 8 glasses of water per day

●     Avoiding fried foods

●     Getting plenty of rest

●     Exercising regularly

●     Elevating your feet throughout the day

●     Avoiding caffeinated drinks

2) How can I lower the risk of preterm birth?

Multiples are more likely to be delivered before week 37 of pregnancy, the Office on Women’s Health explains.

Number of Babies vs. Average Length of Pregnancy

 

 

About half of all twin pregnancies are delivered preterm, according to a 2011 article in Reviews in Obstetrics & Gynecology. In fact, preterm labor and delivery is the most common complication for twin pregnancies, says ACOG.

Babies who are born preterm can have difficulties breathing and eating, and they usually have to stay in the hospital longer than full-term babies. But modern medicine has advanced enough that problems related to preterm pregnancy are usually treatable.

According to ACOG, detecting preterm labor early enough is key.

If your doctor diagnoses you with preterm labor, a corticosteroid may help your babies’ lungs mature more quickly. Or you may take a medication to slow or stop your contractions altogether. The main thing is to keep your doctor abreast of how you’re feeling, especially if you’re feeling contractions.

3) How can I reduce the chance that my babies will have a low birth weight?

More than half of all twins have a low birth weight—less than 5.5 pounds, says SART, which can put your baby at risk for respiratory, heart and other problems.

Number of Babies vs. Average Birth Weight

 

 

They also have a greater chance of developing medical problems later on in life—like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, says March of Dimes.

If you stay healthy, you’ll reduce your babies’ chances of having health issues even if they are born preterm.

You can stay healthy by:

●     Taking a daily prenatal vitamin that contains 400 micrograms of folic acid

●     Maintaining a healthy weight

●     Avoiding exposure to cigarettes, drugs and alcohol

●     Avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals such as paint thinner, as well as undercooked meat and used cat litter

●     Reducing your stress levels

Source: March of Dimes

While labor and delivery for a multiples pregnancy can be more challenging than a single baby, when all is said and done, you’ll have twice (or more) the reward.

If you have any questions about your multiples pregnancy, MountainView Hospital’s maternity team is here to help.

 

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3 Ways to Stand Up for Yourself When You Have an Invisible Illness

Imagine feeling the evil eye seared into the back of your head by a half dozen people when you squeeze into a crowded elevator so you can go up 1 floor. “You couldn’t take the stairs?” You hear the person behind you mutter.

Imagine overhearing nasty, sarcastic comments about how healthy you look when you pull into a handicapped parking space: “Where’s your wheelchair?”

Or having your request for workplace or academic accommodations being questioned because “You don’t look sick.”

For people living with invisible illnesses, this is reality. Dealing with naysayers can be just as exhausting as dealing with the medical condition itself.

Some 125 million Americans are living with at least 1 chronic condition, according to the Invisible Disabilities Association.

Many chronic conditions are considered “invisible,” including:  ●     ADHD  ●     Arthritis  ●     Asthma  ●     Brain injuries  ●     Chronic pain  ●     Diabetes  ●     Epilepsy  ●     Fibromyalgia  ●     Lupus  ●     Migraines  ●     Multiple sclerosis

Here are 3 tips to remember when you have an invisible illness:

1) Know how and when to explain your condition to a naysayer

Sometimes all the naysayer deserves is a polite reminder to mind his or her own business, especially random strangers who are mad about the handicap spot.

But it gets trickier when it comes to current or potential employers.

If you’re applying for jobs, the US Department of Labor says you should disclose your disability on a “need-to-know” basis. You have the right to:

●        Expect full confidentiality and respect

●        Disclose your disability at any time during the hiring process and even after

●        Receive reasonable accommodations for interviews

●        Be considered for positions because of your skills and merit

●        Answer questions about your disability in order to determine the type of accommodations you need, if any

If you’ve decided to share your condition with someone, but you’re  having trouble explaining your condition, talk to your healthcare provider about it. She’s probably used to explaining the condition to her own patients and their families and may know what resonates and what doesn’t.

In extreme cases, particularly with employers, have documentation of your condition available. However, keep in mind that, depending on who the naysayer is, you may have no legal obligation to show this to them. Knowing who deserves proof of your condition and who doesn’t will save you time and hassle.

2) Be prepared to advocate for yourself

The sad reality is that if you have an invisible illness or disability, you may face unnecessary questions and skepticism when you ask for certain accommodations. This is unfortunately true whether you are applying for a handicapped parking pass or if you are seeking disability benefits.

That is why it is important to educate yourself on your legal rights to access and accommodations under U.S. law. That’s where the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) comes in.

The ADA aims to eliminate discrimination based on disability status

 

A disability is: “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”

Source: American with Disabilities Act

If the idea of telling someone about your disability in order to receive accommodations makes you nervous, try practicing what you might say with a friend or family member. This can ease your nerves about the best way to word your case.

3) Keep calm and carry on

Remember that in most cases, the naysayer is not a medical professional or expert on your condition. They have no right to make you doubt yourself, nor do you have to prove anything to them.

Defending yourself to people who choose to deny what you’re experiencing is up to you, but allowing it to become a focus could increase your stress level about what may already be a stressful illness.

Besides, you know yourself better than anyone else.

Ask your doctor about Mountain View Hospital’s resources to help people whose conditions are not obvious.

 

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Stress and Back Pain: Sometimes They’re Not One Without The Other

That twinge of pain in your lower back may not be from sleeping wrong or pulling a muscle. It could very well be from stress.

If you’re stressed out all the time and the pain in your back is on-going, know that there’s a link between the two.

About 7 in 10 Americans say they have physical signs of stress, like back pain

Source: American Psychological Association

 

What Does Stress Have To Do With Your Back?

When stress comes, the body releases nerve chemicals and hormones that can affect how your body functions. You may experience issues with your digestive and reproductive systems, plus your immunity is often lowered, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Unlike acute stress that occurs suddenly, the type of stress that can aggravate back pain stems from day-to-day issues that never seem to end. It can elevate your blood pressure and make your muscles tense, says the National Institutes of Health.

 

 

Source: The American Psychological Association

 

Dealing With Stress

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with the inevitable stressors of life, which could help with the pain and discomfort in your back, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

1. Take care of yourself

It’s easy to ignore your own well-being when you’re distracted by so many other things. Eating well and exercising often fall by the wayside when you’re stressed out. But that can cause weight gain.

Being overweight is associated with back pain because it adds pressure to joints in your back, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. A proper diet and exercise can keep the extra pounds off. Exercise will also strengthen those back muscles.

2. Talk to someone about your feelings

Talking to friends is great, but sometimes people benefit more from seeking professional counseling for stress that just seems too overwhelming. Seventy-five percent of people who get psychotherapy see a positive change in their lives, according to the American Psychological Association.

3. Don’t do drugs or drink alcohol

While drugs and alcohol may seem to help when you’re overwhelmed, it can actually become an even bigger issue, especially when you need a certain substance just to feel relaxed. Choosing healthier ways to deal with stress—like exercise and counseling—are much better.

4. Take a break from the stress

Sometimes people need to remove themselves from stress altogether. That could mean reserving a weekend, a day—or even just a few hours—where you unplug from the rest of the world. Turn off the tv, the phone, the laptop and just focus on doing something that you enjoy. That could even mean taking a short vacation to clear your head from stressful thoughts.

5. Address the root of the problem

There are times when people are stressed about issues that can be fixed. That means planning how to make a change. If poor finances are the problem, set up a budget that can put you in a better financial position or seek advice from a financial adviser or a friend who seems to be doing great with personal finance.

If your job is the source of your stress, then it might be time to plot your next move. That could mean talking to your boss about making changes or changing jobs altogether.

Regardless of the source, if you can clearly identify how to alleviate stress, then the next step is to take action. In the meantime, if your back pain continues, one of Mountain View’s orthopedic specialists can work with you to manage your pain.

 

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