‘Heart & Vascular’ Category


Managing cholesterol is a balancing act

Managing your cholesterol can be a balancing act. To best reduce your chances of heart disease, you want to have low levels of total cholesterol, but you want higher levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol.

That’s because not all cholesterol was created equal.

HDL cholesterol is also known as “good” cholesterol. It helps prevent “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins, or LDL) from getting lodged in your artery walls. It does this by acting as cholesterol scavengers. It picks up excess cholesterol in your blood and takes it back to your liver where it’s broken down. By doing this, it reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke.

LDL cholesterol, however, can clog your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack. The body produces it naturally, but many people inherit genes from their family that cause them to make too much. You can also create higher levels by eating saturated fat and trans fats.

The good news is there are things you can do to make sure you have the right balance of cholesterol (high levels of HDL, low levels of LDL). Avoiding tobacco smoke, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active can all help. So can eating whole grains, such as oatmeal, oat bran and whole-wheat products.

Everyone is different, so in addition to taking these simple steps you should also consult with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to work with you to find the treatment plan that best suits your needs.

Healthy habits can help manage, or even prevent, high blood pressure

It is natural for your blood pressure to go up and down overtime, but when it stays high for long periods of time it can create problems. High blood pressure, also known as “hypertension,” is a serious condition hat can lead to many health problems – including heart disease and stroke.

There are a number of risk factors that can contribute to high blood pressure. Smoking, stress, unhealthy eating habits, being overweight and a lack of physical activity all plays a role. Family history and advanced age are also factors.

Regardless of why you have high blood pressure, however, it is something that can sometimes be controlled by making various lifestyle changes. Several ways to manage your blood pressure include being smoke-free, getting at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, eating a balanced diet low in saturated fats and sodium and finding ways to manage your stress.

If these lifestyle changes are not enough, your healthcare provider may consider starting a medication to help. There are several different types and categories that can lower your blood pressure (and offer other health benefits). Talk to your doctor if you feel this may be necessary in your case.

Eating healthy, being active and avoiding tobacco are not just strategies to lower blood pressure, however. They are also ways to avoid having high blood pressure to begin with! There are usually no symptoms associated with hypertension, so the best to protect yourself is to adopt a healthy lifestyle and make a habit out of getting routine blood pressure checks.

Poor sleep can increase your risk of heart disease

Everyone knows that a good night’s rest can do wonders for how you feel, but you may not fully realize just how important sleep can be to your health. Poor sleep can actually increase your risk of developing heart disease.

Sleep disorders are medical problems that interfere with the amount you sleep or the quality of your sleep. Untreated sleep disorders, in particular sleep apnea, can have serious health consequences such as hypertension, congestive heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms and stroke. In fact:

  • About 40% of people with hypertension also have obstructive sleep apnea.
  • The changes in breathing caused by sleep apnea affect oxygen levels, blood pressure and heart rate. This leads to increased stress on the heart that can result in hypertension, congestive heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms and stroke.
  • About 75% of individuals with heart failure suffer from some form of sleep apnea. Treatment can improve heart function and quality of sleep.
  • Approximately 40,000 cardiovascular deaths a year are related to untreated sleep apnea.
  • Nearly 50% of individuals that have had a stroke also have sleep apnea.
  • Men with moderate to severe sleep apnea are nearly three times more likely to have a stroke than men without sleep apnea.
  • Nearly 50% of atrial fibrillation patients have sleep-disordered breathing.
  • Treatment for sleep-disordered breathing in atrial fibrillation patients has been shown to reduce the race of reoccurrence.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, nighttime gasping or coughing, difficulty breathing when lying flat, frequent awakenings, dry mouth or dry throat in the morning and morning headaches. If you suspect that you, or someone you love, suffers from sleep apnea contact the SOMC Sleep Diagnostic Center at 740-356-8822.

Improving heart health may be easier than you think

Across the United States, the month of February is recognized as National Heart Month. It is a time when many organizations, including Southern Ohio Medical Center, seek to shine a spotlight on the keys to a healthy heart and why it’s so important.

Some factors that put you at risk are unavoidable. For example, you can’t help but grow older. There are, however, many changes you can implement today to improve your health.

If you smoke, quitting is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health as it has been closely linked to heart disease (and a host of other diseases). SOMC can even help you drop the habit through free smoking cessation classes.

Your blood pressure and cholesterol also play major factors in your heart’s health. High blood pressure makes the heart work harder than normal. Cholesterol, meanwhile, can clog your arteries and raise your risk of a heart attack. Adopting a healthy diet and increasing physical activity can control both of these factors.

While losing weight will help, it is healthier to lose it slowly. Crash diets, very-low calorie diets, cleansings and fasts have all been shown to weaken the immune system and damage heart muscles. This will actually increase the threat of developing heart disease.

Aside from replacing bad habits with good diet and exercise, there are other ways – some you may not have considered – to improve your heart health.

Adopting a pet, for example, can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure. If you happen to have a dog, it can also make a great exercise buddy! Drinking green tea can also help by improving blood vessel function, and eating a small amount of dark chocolate can reduce the inflammation that leads to cardiovascular disease. Practicing good dental hygiene is also important as there is a correlation between gum disease and heart problems. Other changes, like limiting your intake of sodium, can also help.

Although it may seem overwhelming, it does not need to be. SOMC is here to help – and will even provide a registered dietitian to help you pick out healthy foods during your next trip to Kroger, free of charge!

For more information about SOMC’s Heart Smart Cart shopping program, call 740-356-8649. To sign up for one of SOMC’s free smoking cessation classes, call 740-356-2552. Additional information can also be found at www.somc.org.

 

SOMC announces February’s “Go Red” events

It’s time to once again “Go Red” for national heart month with Southern Ohio Medical Center.

SOMC is hosting several events throughout the month of February to promote good heart health and is selling “Go Red” t-shirts for the community to wear on February 7. In addition to “Go Red” day, there is also the month-long walking competition “Pound the Pavement,” a Zumbathon Charity Event and special “Make a Date with your Heart” screenings.

“We are reaching out to the community in a variety of ways to increase awareness and promote good heart health,” Amy Fraulini, director of SOMC Critical Care and Heart and Vascular Services, said.  “Heart disease remains the number one killer in the country.  It’s important for our friends and family to understand if they are at risk, and more importantly, be able to recognize the early signs and symptoms of a heart attack.  Awareness, education and screenings are vital for good heart health.”

Go Red t-shirts can be purchased now and are $12 each. Proceeds benefit the SOMC Heart and Vascular Fund, which assists local heart and vascular patients and their families with various needs.

The Go Red Zumbathon takes place on February 15 from noon until 2:00pm at the SOMC LIFE Center. There will be two “Make a Date with your Heart” screenings on February 18. Both take place at the Friends Center, with the first screenings set for 9:00 am to 1100am  and the second round lasting from 5:00 pm to 7:00pm. Pound the Pavement, meanwhile, lasts throughout the month of February.

For more information about any of these events, or to learn more about National Heart Awareness Month, call 740-356-8308 or visit somc.org.

SOMC earns Magnet re-designation

Southern Ohio Medical Center has been re-designated as a Magnet hospital, the highest level of distinction for nursing excellence awarded by the American Nursing Credentialing Center. SOMC is the only Magnet hospital in the tri-state area, and one of fewer than 400 Magnet hospitals in the United States.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that we have earned Magnet re-designation. It takes full commitment from everyone in our organization to achieve the level of care required for Magnet, and I am overjoyed to see our work recognized in this way,” SOMC Chief Nursing Officer Claudia Burchett said. “This is a glowing endorsement of our nurses and the care they provide, but it’s also a ‘seal of approval’ on our entire hospital and its staff.”

“Magnet is a confirmation of something that we already know at SOMC: That our nurses routinely go above and beyond to provide their patients with truly excellent care,” SOMC President and CEO Randy Arnett said. “To be re-designated as a Magnet hospital is a huge accomplishment, and one that fewer than 7% of all U.S. hospitals have achieved. It speaks to the outstanding job done by our nurses and medical staff each and every day.”

There are five main components through which Magnet hospitals are measured: Transformational Leadership, Structural Empowerment, Exemplary Professional Practice, and New Knowledge, Innovations and Improvements.  To receive re-designation, SOMC submitted a document that was more than 5,500 pages long and 20 inches tall detailing how the hospital achieved excellence in all five areas.

Magnet appraisers also completed an on-site visit where they met with staff and heard first-hand what sets SOMC apart.

“Part of what makes the nurses at SOMC so special is how they work seamlessly with the entire staff to ensure every patient receives the best care possible,” Dr. Elie Saab said. “SOMC is a Magnet hospital because of their dedication to patient care. I am proud to work alongside such talented and caring individuals.”

The Magnet Recognition Program was developed by the ANCC in 1994 to recognize health care facilities that provide the very best in professional nursing care. SOMC first received Magnet designation in 2008.

ANCC statistics show that nurses who work in Magnet designated hospitals are more satisfied with their jobs and the care they provide. Magnet hospitals also have an increased retention rate for nurses.

For more information, visit www.somc.org.

SOMC announces Old Hollywood Casino Night fundraiser

Southern Ohio Medical Center is inviting the public to kick back and enjoy an Old Hollywood-style Casino Night at the SOMC Friends Center on June 21. Proceeds from the event support the SOMC Development Foundation.

“Our Casino Night fundraiser will help us make sure we can offer the latest treatments and technology to our patients,” SOMC Director of Community Relations and Development Kara Redoutey said. “The SOMC Development Foundation’s purpose is to give our community the resources required to meet our local healthcare needs. The money we raise from this event will help make sure local ambulances have everything they need to effectively care for heart attack patients.”

Proceeds from last year’s foundation fundraiser helped SOMC equip local ambulances with 12-Lead EKG technology, which can dramatically reduce the time it takes for heart attack victims to receive the care. Funds raised this year will go towards providing local EMS with technology and software systems to build upon those advancements even further.

Individual tickets to SOMC’s Casino Night fundraiser cost $75 each and come with $25,000 in funny money, which can be used to play games during the event.

For $500, individuals can become “Superstar Sponsors” and receive two tickets, $25,000 in funny money per person and recognition at a gaming table. A $1,000 donation earns the individual “Director’s Circle” recognition, eight tickets with reserved seating, $25,000 in funny money per person and recognition at a gaming table.

The event’s top three winners will receive prizes, while everyone else will be entered into a drawing. The event will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres and attendees are encouraged to wear cocktail attire or dress as their favorite Old Hollywood star.

Social hour begins at 6:00pm and gaming will last from 7:00pm until 10:00pm. For more information, or to reserve a ticket, contact the SOMC Development Office at 740-356-2794.

12-Lead EKGs help SOMC beat national benchmark for heart attack care

Carlos Morris fits the profile of someone who is serious about maintaining good health.

He is not overweight. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t smoke. He exercises almost every day. That’s why he was just as surprised as anyone when, while working out at the Wheelersburg Life Center, Carlos had a heart attack.

“I was just working out on one of the machines,” Carlos said. “Once I finish, I usually take a couple of laps to cool off, but this time I couldn’t. I was sweating unbelievably, then my chest started hurting and I became nauseated.”

An ambulance was called to take Carlos to Southern Ohio Medical Center, but his treatment actually began long before he arrived at the hospital. That’s because the ambulance was equipped with a 12-lead EKG system that helped emergency staff in Portsmouth evaluate Carlos’ condition while he was still in Wheelersburg.

Using the EKGs, Carlos was diagnosed with an acute heart attack and the results were sent to SOMC’s Emergency Room via cell phone technology before he ever arrived at the hospital. Because of this, the cardiologist and cath lab team were able to prepare to treat him as soon as he arrived.  This allowed him to completely bypass the Emergency Department and go straight to the Cath lab.

Within 46 minutes of the squad’s arrival at the Life Center, and within 23 minutes of their arrival at SOMC, Carlos made it to the Cath lab, had a balloon inserted and the affected artery was re-opened.

“The national benchmark for getting heart attack patients to the cath lab is 90 minutes, but we were able to cut that by more than half thanks to the use of the 12-lead EKG system in the field by Porter Township EMS ,” SOMC Director of Critical Care and Heart and Vascular Services Amy Fraulini said.

When a heart attack occurs, the faster a patient can be assessed and treated the better their odds of survival. Carlos’ story demonstrates how 12-lead EKGs used by ambulances can increase those odds, and that is why SOMC has made it a goal to ensure that all local ambulances carry the technology. The process of equipping these squads has already begun, thanks to funds raised through community donations. The proceeds from SOMC’s 2012 Ohio River Cruise also went towards purchasing the equipment.

Thanks to the quick care Carlos received, he has already returned to the Life Center and is looking forward to resuming his normal routines.

“I’m very grateful for everything that was done for me,” Carlos said. “I’d like to personally thank everyone who made it possible.”

SOMC hosting Relax with Heart event on February 19

SOMC will host its eighth annual heart awareness program, Relax with Heart, from 2 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Friends Center.

“Relax with Heart will focus on the many ways you can easily reduce stress and unwind,” Amy Fraulini, director of SOMC Heart and Vascular Services, said. “Stress affects each of us differently but there are many healthy habits we can form to protect us from the damage it may cause.”

Relax with Heart will offer the public opportunities to learn how to relax through low-impact exercise, massage therapy, and spa treatments and will also include screenings for total cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, body mass index (optional), and a heart risk analysis.

The event is free, though pre-registration is required. For more information or to schedule your appointment, please call 740-356-7665.