Strike Out Against Potentially Devastating Brain Attacks

Learn the three types of risk factors for stroke. While you may not be able to change them all, there are still ways to stack the odds in your favor.

Non-modifiable risk factors

• Age    

• Gender    

• Race/ethnicity

Modifiable risk factors

• High blood pressure                                   

• Lack of exercise

• Smoking                                                                  

• Diabetes

• High cholesterol                                                     

• Atrial fibrillation

• Sickle cell disease                                                   

• Obesity

• Alcohol abuse                                                         

• Drug abuse

• Presence of other cardiovascular disease

Harder to change or possible indicators

• Obstructive sleep apnea                                        

• Migraine

• Certain infections                                                   

• Gum disease

• Blood markers like factor V Leiden, lipoprotein(a) or others

Stroke Awareness and Prevention

Understanding How Stress Effects the Body

Learn more about how stress wreaks havoc with your body during Stress Awareness Month. Never underestimate the damage stress can cause. Check out our fun infographic for some great tips for reducing stress.

Notice these signs of stress:

  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid breathing
  • Pounding heart
  • High blood sugar
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach ache
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system                           

Here’s how key body systems react:

Nervous System. When stressed, the body shifts its energy resources to fighting off the perceived threat. In what is known as the “fight or flight” response, the sympathetic nervous system signals the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones make the heart beat faster, raise blood pressure, change the digestive process and boost glucose levels in the bloodstream.

Musculoskelatal System. Under stress, muscles tense up. Over time this can trigger headaches, including migraines and severe cramps.

Respiratory System. Stress can cause rapid and more labored breathing—or hyperventilation—which can bring on panic attacks.

Cardiovascular System. Acute stress causes an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions of the heart muscle. Blood vessels that direct the blood to the large muscles (including the heart) dilate, increasing the amount of blood pumped to these parts of the body. Over time, this can cause inflammation of the coronary arteries thought to lead to heart attack.

Endocrine System. With stress, the brain sends signals to produce “stress hormones.” When this happens, the liver produces more glucose, a blood sugar that would be available to give you more energy for “fight or flight,” but that otherwise can cause a diabetic reaction.

Gastrointestinal System. Stress may prompt you to eat more (or less) than normal. If you eat more or different foods you may experience heartburn or acid reflux. In addition, your stomach may have “butterflies” which can turn into nausea or pain, and your bowels might not absorb food properly resulting in constipation or diarrhea.

Enhancing the Quality of Life of Individuals with Lung Disease

Individuals with respiratory illnesses often take shallow breaths causing chest muscle weakness, reduced oxygen circulation, shortness of breath and fatigue. Effective pulmonary programs can increase quality of life and reduce unnecessary hospitalizations.

Three types of breathing exercises

  1. Pursed Lip Breathing: Helps to increase the length of expiration

a.         Relax neck and shoulders

b.         Breathe in for two counts through nose

c.         Breathe out for three to four counts through pursed lips.

d.         “Smell the roses, blow out the candles!

2. Deep Breathing: Helps to calm nerves and exercise the diaphragm

a.         Inhale for 4 seconds

b.         Hold for 4 seconds

c.         Exhale for 4 seconds

d.         Hold for 4 seconds

3. Diaphragmatic Breathing: Helps train the abdominal muscles to aid during exhalation to fully empty the lungs

a.         Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below the ribcage.

b.         Breathe in slowly through your nose, so your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.

c.         Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips.

Key Benefits of Breathing Properly: 

•          Endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller, are released

•          Improved blood flow

•          Improves posture

•          Reduces inflammation

•          Detoxifies the body by releasing toxic carbon dioxide

•          Stimulates lymphatic system

•          Improves digestion

•          Relaxes the mind and body

8 Sweet Ways to Love Your Heart

February is Heart Health Month. Here are some of the top ways to keep the heart healthy and happy.

  1. Sleep. Getting at least seven hours of sleep each night has been shown to reduce the amount of calcium build up in our hearts. Get to bed at a reasonable time or let yourself sleep in when you can.
  2. Be less salty. Adults should consume less than six grams of salt per day or about one teaspoon. Check food labels and cut down on added salt to foods and enjoy the natural flavors instead.
  3. Get fruity! (and veggie). Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables as much as possible throughout the day. Giving your body the nutrients it needs can be healing and give you and natural energy boost.
  4. Keep your hands busy. Knitting, quilting, woodworking, scrap-booking and other activities we do with our hands keeps our minds active and also can help reduce our stress levels.
  5. Dance. Saying to “exercise more” sounds like a chore but telling you to “dance” three or four times a week is a cardiovascular activity that will help to improve your strength and stamina as well.
  6. Laugh. When we laugh, stress hormones are reduced, endorphins and T-cells are boosted, and we can get a good ab workout when we have a good belly laugh. Considering all this, laughter actually might be nature’s best medicine.
  7. Stretch it out. Stretching can help improve your balance, strength and flexibility. It also helps reduce stress and can help improve heart health by helping you relax. Do some simple stretches throughout the day to stay nimble and loose.
  8. Eat breakfast. Eating a nutritious breakfast every morning can help maintain a healthy weight and get your metabolism awake for the day. Food is fuel, so eating a heart-healthy meal at the beginning of the day can help kick start a great day!

Credit: A Year of Wellness™, www.ayow.com

Reducing Pain Naturally

Both acute and chronic pain can be debilitating and severely impact quality of life. What’s more, the number of people who have died from an opioid overdose has quadrupled from 1999 to 2015. Opting for non-drug pain management alternatives is preferable for both patients and physicians.

Acute Pain:

  • Acute pain is a warning sign that tissue damage has occurred or may occur.
  • Acute pain is a type of pain that is directly related to soft tissue damage such as a sprained ankle or a paper cut.
  • An acute pain signal is the body’s way of providing protection from injury or further injury.
  • Acute pain lasts for a short time (up to 12 weeks).

Chronic Pain:

  • Chronic pain occurs when the brain determines there is a threat to one’s wellbeing based on the many signals it receives from the body.
  • It can occur independently of any actual damage due to injury or illness, and may extend beyond the normal tissue healing time.
  • With chronic pain, the nervous system creates pain even after the physical injury/illness has healed.

Non-drug Pain Treatments:

  • Posture and balance training
  • Manual therapies including myofascial release and soft tissue mobilizations
  • Modalities including diathermy, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound (limited duration)
  • Flexibility exercises
  • Energy conservation techniques
  • Adaptive techniques for completing common activities
  • Relaxation techniques such as Thai Chi, Yoga, distraction activities, deep breathing, meditation, socialization activities, hobbies, etc.