Posts made in January 2021

Heart Attacks in Winter

Winter means cooler temperatures and the holiday season, but did you know it also brings an increased risk of heart attack?  Studies show the risk of dying from a heart attack is greater in the winter than at any other time of year, with cardiac mortality at its highest in December and January. While the reasons for the increase in heart attacks are complex – including changes in hormone, stress and exertion levels – you can take steps to reduce your risk.

There are several reasons heart attacks are more frequent in winter.  First, during the winter months, changes in hormonal balances put individuals at greater risk for cardiovascular problems.  In addition, the colder temperatures cause arteries to tighten, restricting blood flow, reducing oxygen to the heart and causing blood pressure to increase, all of which can set the stage for a heart attack, especially in plaque-clogged arteries.  During winter months people tend to exercise and do yard work and other physical activity earlier in the day.  Since blood pressure rises naturally in the morning, increased exertion early in the day can contribute to heart attacks.  The flu season also may play a role in the increased number of heart attacks. The influenza virus may trigger inflammation of the heart, which may cause a heart attack.

The holidays may play a role in the increased number of heart attacks. People overindulge in food and alcohol, which often leads to weight gain and contributes to the risk for heart attack.  Alcohol has its own heart risks, increasing blood pressure, contributing to abnormal heart rhythms and increasing the risk of depression.  The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can also be a source of stress, with many people pressed for time and money.  Anxiety and depression tend to increase during this time of year, further increasing the risk of heart attack.

Though there are several reasons heart attacks are more common in winter, you can take steps to reduce your risk. First, avoid over-exertion and talk to your doctor about appropriate physical activity.  Winter chores such as shoveling snow can be particularly strenuous.  If you must shovel snow, take frequent breaks and be sure to bundle up and stay warm.  Experts recommend dressing in three layers: an inner layer that wicks away moisture, a middle layer that insulates the body and a top layer that repels rain and water.  If you are over 50 or have a history of health problems, get someone to shovel the snow for you.  If you are sore after shoveling snow, take symptoms seriously, as signs of a heart attack may be mistaken for a pulled muscle.

The holidays provide ample opportunities to eat and drink, but try to do so in moderation.  Avoid caffeine and nicotine, both of which can exacerbate heart problems, and consider taking at least 400 IU (international units) of vitamin D each day.  Low levels of vitamin D have been found more often in heart attack patients.  Finally, be sure to get your flu shot, which can cut your risk of heart attack in half.

In any season, the best medicine to ward off heart attacks is prevention: Cultivate heart-healthy habits, such as regular exercise, weight control, and a diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables.  Also, know your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.  Finally, to combat the holiday blues, take solace in the company of friends and loved ones.

The providers of Cardiovascular Associates and here for you and want you to know, YOUR HEART HEALTH CAN NOT WAIT!  Call 855.93-HEART, make that appointment today and let’s make a plan together to protect your heart this winter!

Hip Fractures

Hip fractures send more than 300,000 Americans age 65 and older to the hospital each year. While hip fractures can be treated, the injury can lead to severe health problems and reduced quality of life.

Most hip fractures occur because of a fall, especially among adults over the age of 65 with osteoporosis, a condition where bones become weak. In addition to advanced age and osteoporosis, other risk factors associated with hip fractures include lack of calcium and vitamin D in the diet when younger, physical inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use and certain medications. Environmental factors such as loose rugs or a cluttered living space could increase the chance of falling.

A hip fracture causes pain in the outer upper thigh or groin area as well as the inability to bear weight on the side of the injury. The hip area may become stiff, show signs of bruising or swelling, and a significant level of discomfort could occur after any attempt to rotate or flex the hip. Most hip fractures are diagnosed following an X-ray, which also shows where the fracture occurred in the hip.

Treatment is determined based on the patient’s overall health and age as well as the location and severity of the fracture. Most hip fractures are treated surgically using one of three methods:

  • Inserting metal screws into the bone, if it is properly aligned, to hold it together as it heals.
  • Replacing part of the femur, the long bone that extends from the pelvis to the knee. This method, called a partial hip replacement, calls for removing the head and neck of the femur and replacing them with a metal prosthesis.
  • Replacing the upper femur and pelvic bone socket with a prosthesis. This is called a total hip replacement.

Patients typically do better if they undergo surgery soon after the hip fracture occurs. They may be encouraged to get out of bed the day after surgery with help from a physical therapist, who also will work with patients to help them regain strength and start walking again. After a hip fracture, most patients are hospitalized for approximately one week and may then be either discharged home or referred to a nursing home if they are unable to live independently. Physical therapy rehabilitation usually takes approximately three months.

People at risk for hip fractures can take steps to reduce their chances of falling.

  • Men and women over the age of 50 should make sure they get enough vitamin D and calcium in their diet.
  • Engage in weight-bearing exercise to help strengthen bones and prevent falls.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and do not smoke.
  • Wear shoes with non-skid soles and avoid high heels and shoes like sandals and bedroom slippers that flop when you walk.
  • Check your home for trip hazards like throw rugs, electrical cords and clutter.
  • Make sure your home and outside walkways are well-lit so you can see where you are walking.
  • Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about whether assistive devices may be needed to help you keep your balance.

The providers and staff at Precision Sports Medicine & Orthopedics wants you to know that your hip pain can’t wait!  Call 888.417.4954 to make that appointment with one of our offices today!

Flu or Cold?

You’re coughing, running a fever and ache all over. Is it a bad cold or the flu?

Both are caused by viruses, but not the same ones. They both spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. When the viruses land on surfaces like counters, elevator buttons, stair rails or telephones, another person can get the virus on their hands and then infect themselves when they touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

Colds and flu are both highly contagious and have many symptoms in common, but the flu is a serious illness that may have life-threatening complications. In general, a person with the flu will have fever that’s usually between 102ºF and 104ºF. The fever can last 3-4 days. Flu symptoms come on suddenly and may be severe. You’ll experience muscle aches, a headache, sore throat and feel very tired and weak. Some people feel extremely exhausted. Another symptom is a cough that can be severe. Gastro-intestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are more common in children than adults.

Cold symptoms, which usually are milder than those of the flu, appear within one to three days of being exposed to the cold virus. If you have a cold, then you may have a fever under 102ºF along with a stuffy nose, cough, headache and loss of appetite. You may experience chills and sweats along with some aching muscles.

What if you get the flu or a cold?

If you do get the flu or a cold, the best advice is to get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquid and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. You can take over-the-counter medicines to relieve symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nasal congestion and cough.

CAUTION: Do NOT give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, especially a fever. In some cases, this has caused a serious complication known as Reye’s syndrome.

Anti-viral medications may be prescribed for cases of the flu. These medicines may shorten the time you feel ill. Some of these medications only work with certain types of influenza viruses. To be effective, these need to be taken no later than 24 to 48 hours after you first develop symptoms.

Some people are more at risk of developing complications of the flu. These include young children and people older than 50. Other at-risk groups include:

  • Residents of nursing homes or chronic care facilities
  • People with chronic disorders such as diabetes, heart, lung or kidney disorders
  • People with a weakened immune system including those with HIV, leukemia or taking medications following an organ transplant
  • Women who are pregnant and in their second or third trimester
  • People who work in a healthcare facility

If you fall into one of these groups and develop symptoms of the flu, call your doctor immediately.

If you develop complications including trouble breathing, a very high fever, a severe sore throat, a cough that produces a lot of green or yellow mucus, or you feel faint, call your doctor.

Preventing colds and flu

In the case of viruses like the cold and flu, the best line of defense is prevention. While there isn’t a vaccine for cold viruses, an annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months. It’s especially important for those at risk of developing serious complications from the flu to receive the vaccine. These at-risk groups include children under the age of 5, those over the age of 65, pregnant women, American Indians and Alaskan natives and people who have serious medical conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, diabetes, neurological conditions, kidney disease, liver disease and those with a weakened immune system.

Each of us should help prevent the spread of viruses by taking these steps:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then put the tissue in a trash container. You also can cough or sneeze into your elbow if a tissue isn’t available.
  • Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes to stop the spread of germs.
  • Wash your hands often using soap and warm water. You should wash for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice). Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used when soap and water aren’t available.
  • Try to avoid contact with those who have symptoms of the cold or flu.
  • Stay home when you are sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you remain at home until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without taking a fever-reducing medication.

If you do become sick with the cold or a flu, watch for signs of worsening symptoms such as symptoms that last longer than 10 days, trouble breathing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain.

For children these may include:

  • Fever higher than 103ºF or a fever that lasts more than three days
  • Bluish skin color
  • Earache or drainage from the ear
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but come back with a fever or more severe cough
  • Vomiting or abdominal pain
  • Changes in mental state such as not waking up, irritability or seizures

In adults, look for:

  • Fever above 102ºF that lasts for days and is accompanied by fatigue and body aches
  • Fainting or feeling faint
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Severe sinus pain
  • Swollen glands in the neck or jaw

You should contact your doctor or seek emergency medical care if you have any of the symptoms listed above since they may indicate a serious medical condition.