Cardiovascular System, Circulatory System, Healthy Living, Matters of the Heart

What Lack of Sleep Can Do to Your Heart?


This is a very long overdue post that I have intended to share several months back. So now that I have gotten the time to pick up my pen and write, I want to share my thoughts with you on this post that I read way back from last year. This post is a bit long, but please read to the end because it may save you or someone you know from a serious heart attack.

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Take Care of Your Heart

This is a repost from a blog in Mumbai, India:

“Ranjan Das, CEO and MD of SAP-Indian subcontinent died after a massive cardiac arrest in Mumbai recently. One of the youngest CEOs, he was only 42.”

What killed Ranjan Das?

He was very active in sports, was a fitness freak and a marathon runner. After his workout, he collapsed with a massive heart attack and died. He is survived by his wife and two very young kids. It was certainly a wakeup call for corporate India. However, it was even more disastrous for runners. The question arises as to why an exceptionally active athletic person succumbed to a heart attack at 42 years of age.

What is the real reason?

Everyone missed out a small line in the reports that Ranjan used to manage with 4-5 hours of sleep. In an earlier interview of Ranjan on NDTV in the program “Boss day out”, Ranjan Das himself admitted that he sleeps less and would love to get more sleep.

Short sleep duration (<5 or 5-6 hours) increases risk for BP by 350% to 500% compared to those who slept longer than 6 hours per night.

Young people (25-49 years of age) are twice as likely to get high BP if they sleep less. Individuals who sleep less than 5 hours a night have a 3-fold increased risk of heart attacks.

Just one night of sleep loss increases very toxic substances in body such as Interleukin-6 (IL-6). Tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and C-reactive protein (CRP). They also cause cancer, arthritis and heart disease.

Sleeping for <=5 hours per night leads to 39% increase in heart disease. Sleeping for <=6 hours per night leads to 8% increase in heart disease.

What is ideal sleep?

In brief, sleep is composed of two stages: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM. The former helps in mental consolidation while the latter helps in physical repair and rebuilding. No wonder when one wakes up with an alarm clock after 5-6 hours of sleep, he/she is mentally irritable throughout the day (lack of REM sleep).

And if somebody has slept for less than 5 hours, the body is a complete physical mess (lack of non-REM sleep), the person is tired throughout the day and immunity is way down.

In conclusion:

Barring stress control, Ranjan Das did everything right: eating proper food, exercising, and maintaining proper weight. But he missed getting proper and adequate sleep, minimum 7 hours. That killed him.

We are playing with fire if we a sleeping less than 7 hours even if we have low stress.

Do not set your alarm clock under 7 hours. Ranjan Das is not alone.

From: N. Silva (Senior Cardiologist)

My personal thoughts on this:

Instead of talking about how shocking this news was, let me focus on what can be done to avoid it. Personally, when I sleep for less than 7 hours at night; my body gives me a host of negative signals from migraine headaches, stomach upsets, palpitations, chest heaviness to shortness of breath. When this occurs, my automatic self-remedy is to pay off all my sleep debt just how my cardiologist taught me.

How sleep debt works?

So, when I owe myself one hour of sleep for each weekday (Monday to Friday), I add 5 more hours on top of my regular 7 or 8 hours of sleep on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) to pay off my accumulated sleep debt.

Here is a sample computation:

Monday to Friday (6 hours sleep each night) = 5 hours of sleep debt

Saturday and Sunday (8 hours per night) = 16 hours + 5 hours

Total number of required hours of sleep on weekends (21 hours/2) = 10.5 hours

This strategy really works for me because after banking on my sleep hours, I feel refreshed mentally, emotionally and physically, and most importantly, the symptoms are gone.

Additional Tips on How to Improve Sleep

“Falling asleep may seem like an impossible dream when you’re awake at 3 a.m., but good sleep is more under your control than you might think. Following healthy sleep habits can make the difference between restlessness and restful slumber. Researchers have identified a variety of practices and habits—known as “sleep hygiene”—that can help anyone maximize the hours they spend sleeping, even those whose sleep is affected by insomnia, jet lag, or shift work.” Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School

Here are “Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep” according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and WGBH Educational Foundation:

  1. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Chemicals that Interfere with Sleep
  2. Turn Your Bedroom into a Sleep-Inducing Environment
  3. Establish a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine
  4. Go to Sleep When You’re Truly Tired
  5. Don’t Be a Night-time Clock-Watcher
  6. Use Light to Your Advantage
  7. Keep Your Internal Clock Set with a Consistent Sleep Schedule
  8. Nap Early—Or Not at All
  9. Lighten Up on Evening Meals
  10. Balance Fluid Intake
  11. Exercise Early
  12. Follow Through

These tips are all self-explanatory and my guess is, everybody already knows most of them. So if you ask me what’s the most important one? It is the follow through; meaning, you have to start somewhere and then continuously and consistently do it every day. You may find difficulty following everything at the start, so what you can do is follow one suggestion after another and whatever works for you, be committed to doing it religiously.

Lastly, here’s one thing that was not mentioned on the list, but works effectively for me; I spend some quiet moments alone in my room to either read a favorite book, to have small chat with my husband or best of all, to say a short prayer of thanksgiving for all the day’s accomplishments.

I do encourage you to take a self-evaluation of your sleep pattern and make the necessary adjustments on your sleep hygiene; also, share this with your loved ones or someone you know who can benefit from living with a strong and healthy heart!

Media Graphic Credits:
It’s Your Heart—Take care of it: https://alanfitness.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/its-your-heart-take-care-of-it/

 

Cardiovascular System, Circulatory System, Digestive System, Ears, Nose and Throat, Healthy Living, Immune System, Muscular System, Nervous System, Reproductive System, Urinary System

What to Do If You Just Had a Surgery?

atnurse
Surgeries & Procedures

These past 2 months I’ve had a number of people ask me about what to do after a surgery so I’ve decided to post a blog to help others who might have similar questions that they asked.

Before I start, though, let me be clear that I am going to discuss uncomplicated surgeries like, appendectomy, excision, incision and drainage, mastectomy, biopsy, endoscopy and the like, but not limited to these. If you’re asking if a cesarean section is considered uncomplicated, the answer is – it depends. Childbirth in itself, no matter how painful the mechanism is, is considered a normal process. A good question though, is what the reason was for a cesarean procedure and how the delivery process took place, and then we can decide whether it is an uncomplicated or a complicated one. I will talk more about labor and delivery in a separate post in the future.

Now back to surgery – first of all, it will be the safest to ask your doctor if there is any ongoing or possible complication on your case. Some of the most common complications to consider include: site or wound infection, fever, embolism (lodging of a blood clot, air bubble or foreign material in the bloodstream) or worse collapsed lungs, and many others.

If it’s been determined that you have a complicated case, then the principles I will discuss may or may not not be appropriate for you.

What to Expect After Surgery:

First 24 Hours

Pain
The first 24 hours will depend on your tolerance to pain. Normally, people just sleep over this stage for the most part, but some people experience the pain sooner than expected. No worries though because you will be given pre-scheduled pain relievers during this period.

Diet
A “nothing by mouth” policy is strictly implemented to avoid sucking of food into the airway, and to wait for the digestive function to return to normal.

Activity
You will be placed flat on bed during the first few hours after surgery, and then will be turned from side to side with help after a few hours to promote blood circulation.

After 24 Hours

Pain
Here is usually the difficult part because the effects of anesthesia will begin to wear off; so be ready for moderate to severe pain. Again, pain sensation differs from person to person depending on an individual’s tolerance and threshold. Pain relievers are still on regular schedule. Your nurse or healthcare provider will be your best friend during this time.

Diet
Your diet regimen will start slowly from sips of water, liquid diet, soft diet before you return to full diet. You may find it weird whenever your nurse or healthcare provider asks you “Have you farted yet?” Surprisingly, your precious gas determines how soon your diet plan will return back to normal. Reason is, this signals the return of your bowel function.

Activity
READ THIS CAREFULLY. Contrary to common myths that you have to stay longer in bed to prevent your stitches to tear off; you actually need to ambulate early because it promotes blood circulation, and therefore, speeds up healing. But mind you, you cannot do this in haste or you might experience what is called spinal headache, dizziness or vomiting.

Ambulate by moving your arms and legs and then when you’re comfortable with it, move from side to side. After a while, add more pillows to your head to raise it up, and then move to the side of your bed to sit up and dangle your legs. Finally, try a few steps to your side chair and then your first trip to the bathroom. When you are able to do this without any symptoms of headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, then you are good to go.

atnurse
Early ambulation speeds up your healing.

Discharge Plan:

Medication
Be sure to follow your prescription up to the last dose especially your antibiotics because this will prevent infection. Pain relievers may now be taken as needed, meaning when in moderate to severe pain, take it. If it’s tolerable, you may just need a distraction.

Diet
Diet is usually as tolerated, but I suggest you take more proteins because this is important for body and organ repair and recovery. Have more fruits and vegetables too for additional boost on your immune system, plus it eases up your bowel movement. You may also take your nutritional supplements to feed your cells.

Activity
Just like your diet, activity needs to be slowed down. You can return to your activities of daily living like bathing and grooming, office working, and non-straining house chores like cooking and washing light dishes. Avoid heavy tasks like doing the laundry or lifting heavy objects like your big pans and pots; have someone do it for you.

Special Note on Fever after Surgery

Rule of Thumb: Fever within 24 hours is usually normal; it’s your body telling you it is adjusting to the trauma after the surgery. If the fever shows up after 24 hours, you have to inform your doctor because it might be a sign of an infection setting in.

We’ve covered the most part and if you make it to the second week without any problem, then you are on your way towards full recovery.

Signs of Complication:
Watch out for the following and report it immediately to your doctor or healthcare provider:

1. Fever after 24 hours.
2. Increasing pain around the surgical area.
3. Swelling that does not subside.
4. Red discoloration around the surgical site.
5. Surgical site warm to the touch.
6. Presence of discharges around the surgical site.

Media Credits:
Surgery & Procedures: http://www.estermaneye.com/services/surgery-procedures/
WebMD: http://www.webmd.com

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Circulatory System, Digestive System, Healthy Living, Infectious Diseases

Things I Have Learned from My Hospital Admission: The Dangers of a Second Episode of Dengue Fever

Getting admitted in the hospital is never easy, and it’s even worse when you’ve never had it in ages. The last time I was confined was when I gave birth to my son who is now turning 18 in a few months. As a nurse, I am very comfortable inside the hospital giving my health instructions, but to be in the receiving end is a whole new story.

Although the experience was devastating, the lessons should be carefully considered to benefit not just myself and my family, but also you who are reading this. I have taken note of all the lessons I learned from this experience and I hope you can pick up something worthwhile for yourself.

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Me Thinking

Things I Have Learned from my Second Episode of Dengue Fever:

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Dengue Warning Signs

The first time I had Dengue Fever was when I was 3 or 4 years old. Then I had typhoid fever, which is a family of Enteric Fever but from a different strain back when I was a nursing student 2 decades ago. I was admitted in the hospital on both occasions and in both episodes what was vivid in my memory was that I am not allowed to eat any dark colored foods. The reason being was that in both illnesses there is danger of bleeding. Here are my notes:

  1. Healthy living saved me from the worst complications: I was in the pink of health when this happened as I was eating healthy food choices and doing regular exercise. This means that my immune system was also working for me. Had I been in the worst condition, my recovery could have been longer and I could have bled profusely.
  2. Second cases of Dengue Fever can get worse than the first: I was told that I can never have the same strain of Dengue viral infection, which is not good because, a person who succumbs the first time develops antibodies. These antibodies remain dormant until a person gets another exposure to a different strain of Dengue. This means that my second infection could have been severe in terms of tendency to bleed and poor recovery.
  3. Dengue Fever can trigger other illnesses to surface: This explains why my Enteric Fever came in later.

Health Tips:

  1. Healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and nutritious balanced diet boosts your immune system and aids your body to get rid of the virus and bacteria in no time. Viruses are self-limiting, meaning there is no cure, but a healthy body generates more antibodies to fight them off. Bacteria, on the other hand, needs antibiotics, but with a healthy immune system, the antibiotics work faster too.
  2. If you’ve had Dengue Fever before, avoid places where there are known cases. Have your insect repellant handy all the time.
  3. Careful handling of food is crucial, especially of eggs and chicken. Both typhoid fever and enteric fever are caused by salmonella infection from different species. A previous infection builds antibodies in your system that’s why exposure to even the smallest amount of the bacteria can trigger a speedy infection process.
  4. Salmonella can be seen in any food products but are commonly found in eggs and chicken. Handling tips: wash the eggs in running water before storing them in your fridge, crack eggs in a separate container, so if one is spoiled it cannot contaminate the others, throw a spoiled egg immediately and get a new container to crack the next ones.
  5. Hand washing as often as necessary can save you and your family from the horrors of having a disease.
  6. Buy chicken, eggs and other food products only from reliable sources.

Resources:
WHO DHF Guidelines: http://www.who.int/tdr/publications/documents/dengue-diagnosis.pdf
Second Case of Dengue: http://www.antimicrobe.org/h04c.files/history/EIN-Sun%20Dengue.asp
Typhoid and Enteric Fever: Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th Edition

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Bible Everyday, Cardiovascular System, Circulatory System, Daily Inspiration, Digestive System, Infectious Diseases, Matters of the Heart, You are Loved

I Am Back!

Praise God I am back!

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The last two weeks had been a very challenging time for me and my family. I was discharged from the hospital last Sunday, March 1 due to dengue and enteric fever. Who would have thought I would have 2 diseases at the same time? After discharge, I was advised to take at least 7-10 days of rest, and I took it very seriously. I spent the whole of last week sleeping, eating and relaxing. I needed to do that so I can completely recover. I finished the last dose of my medication on Tuesday, March 3 and was out to meet with some dear friends yesterday. I am definitely back!

This experience was like a horrible nightmare for me because I never thought I’d fill in the shoes of a patient. I am so used to being the nurse telling my patients, “sorry this is gonna hurt a bit” or that “ma’am its important do this for your health”. Now I am on the receiving end, and the worst part was, to be woken up almost every 2 hours because of my vital signs, medications or blood extractions!

Despite all the troubles though, this past 2 weeks was also a time for many realizations. It made me see that there is so much to be thankful for: my dad and mom, brothers Ronald and Ruel and their wives who ask for updates at every chance they get, my sister Ingrid and her husband Mon who traveled a long way just to check on me, my in-laws: mother in law, brother in law (Rey) and especially my sister in law, Marissa and her husband Kuya Ariel who arranged everything from the time of my admission until I was discharged from the hospital, and my Victory Greenhills family who never stopped covering me in prayers during my ordeal. I truly thank my God for all of you!

Most of all, I would like to honor my husband for all the love, care and nurturing he lavished me with, in spite of the sleepless nights, painful back and legs and his own health failing. I love you even more; you are God’s hands here on earth for me.

And, to the One who is my strong tower, whom I owe everything and who has kept me safe – I will praise you in whatever circumstances! You deserve the glory not because You answered our prayers, but because You are You.

atnurse
For you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Psalm 61:3

Let me tell you about my lowest and weakest moment on the second night at the hospital when I felt a strong sense of desperation. It was after my platelet dived at 41 at 4PM on the first day then soared high at 190 at 7AM the following day. I was so ecstatic and overjoyed because of the sudden shoot up of my platelet, but only to be utterly disappointed because at 3PM it dived again at 83. I was out of reason because my medical knowledge of the disease was that once the platelet recovers, it will continue to rise until it reaches its normal level. The doctor was also doubtful so she ordered a screening test and that was when we found out that I not only have dengue but I also tested positive for enteric fever. Dengue is a viral infection while enteric fever is bacterial. I felt like the whole world just crumbled. I felt a sense of dread because both illnesses can cause bleeding, and with my state, I knew it can happen anytime. That night I pleaded with God and asked so many people to pray for me. His Word kept me company and gave me the spark of hope I needed. I am so glad I memorized this chapter and have kept it locked inside my heart. It lulled me to sleep as I recited His word over and over in my head…

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A psalm of David:
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in the path of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (‭Psalm‬ ‭23‬:‭1-6‬ NIV)

Cardiovascular System, Circulatory System, Digestive System, Nervous System

Why Health Officials Are Concerned About Energy Drinks

Too much energy drink consumption is unhealthy, and if you mix it with alcohol it can be deadly. Something to seriously consider. irmz

TIME

The energy drink market is booming, but that’s not necessarily a good thing when it comes to public health, says the World Health Organization’s regional office for Europe.

In a new report in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, João Breda, who works in the division of noncommunicable diseases at WHO Europe, and his colleagues reviewed data on the health risks of energy drinks and the current policies that regulate them. They concluded that health concerns from the scientific and medical community are valid, and that consuming high levels of caffeine very quickly can cause negative health effects or “caffeine intoxication.” Those effects can include nausea, high blood pressure and heart palpitations. Some deaths have even been linked to energy drink consumption, like that of a 16-year-old girl who went into cardiac arrest after drinking the beverages, but none have been definitively proven.

MORE: What’s In Your Energy…

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Cardiovascular System, Circulatory System, Nervous System

Stroke Series: Maintain Your Blood Pressure

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Measure Monitor Maintain your BP

The season changes, unpredictable weather and extreme temperatures are potential danger signals for people with high blood pressure (BP). If this is not addressed properly, the risk of a stroke becomes very high.

Here are some tips on how to maintain your blood pressure to normal range:

Never miss on your maintenance meds. It is wrong to think that when your BP is okay you can stop your medications. The reason it is normal is because of the drugs you are taking daily. You can only stop when your doctor tells you to do so.

Cut down on monosodium glutamate (MSG). Sodium attracts water into the bloodstream and too much blood volume increases pressure on the blood vessel tubes. MSG can be found on your favourite chips, pizza or seasonings, so do limit on these or better yet remove them from your diet.

Maintain your sugar level. Too much sugar in the blood as in the case of diabetic people makes the blood thicker making passage more difficult, thereby increasing the blood pressure. I will have a separate blog on diabetes, so watch out for this.

atnurse
Ways to Maintain Your BP

Stop smoking. Nicotine hardens and makes the blood vessels brittle. When they do become hardened they are unable to adjust rapidly to extreme hot or cold temperatures. Hot weather causes the blood vessels to dilate and cold temperatures cause it to constrict. Both results in a sudden shift in the blood pressure and for people with hardened tubes, it may end up in a blood pressure shoot up that can end in a stroke.

Lower down your cholesterol level. Increase your Hdl (good cholesterol) and decrease Ldl (bad cholesterol). Cholesterol build-up in the arteries may completely or partially block the blood flow, therefore depleting the Oxygen supply in your body including the brain.

Have more color on your plate. More color means more fruits and vegetables, plus add more bulk from wheat and grains. Other than it gives you good sources of vitamins and minerals, it also helps reduce your cholesterol level.

Take good care of your kidneys. A good kidney gets rid of all your body wastes, if they are not, the accumulated system by-products in the bloodstream cause the increase in your blood pressure.

Limit if not avoid your alcohol intake. Alcohol causes damage to the liver and the kidneys, and once they are damaged they can no longer do their function of cleaning up your system.

Do regular exercise. It helps to improve your heart function and to burn excess calories on your diet.

Maintain your ideal weight. Maintaining your ideal weight is one of the ways you can maintain a healthy lifestyle, practice good eating habits and get rid of the excess fats.

Manage your stress and have enough sleep. Stress as we all know is one of the culprits in most diseases including high blood pressure. It unnecessarily releases high levels of cortisol and epinephrine in the blood stream, which causes the blood pressure to shoot up.

Important Note: Blood pressure that is considered normal is 120/80 mmHg. However, this changes with age, so it is important to have yours monitored daily so you know your normal range.

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Blood Pressure Marker

Media Files:

Maintain your blood pressure: http://www.healthykskids.org/2014/09/03/6-ways-to-reduce-your-blood-pressure/
Measure, Monitor, Maintain: http://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-today/national-high-blood-pressure-education-month.html#.VCoi9VeVpyB