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.

atnurse
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/

 

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Bible Everyday, Daily Inspiration, Hope for You, Marriage Matters, Matters of the Heart, Mommy Diaries, You are Loved

Love? What is it?

It’s the last day of the month that we all popularly call the #lovemonth so I thought it worthwhile to write about something that everyone is so hooked on – LOVE. So, LOVE? What is it really?

atnurse
LOVE? What is It?

Being in the social media era, I curiously searched what Google has to say, and here are the first few searches from the thousands that came up:

From Wikipedia:

“Love is a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal affection to pleasure. It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment.”

From Psychology Today:

“Love is one of the most profound emotions known to human beings. There are many kinds of love, but most people seek its expression in a romantic relationship with a compatible partner. For some, romantic relationships are the most meaningful element in their lives, providing a source of deep fulfillment.”

From Merriam Webster:

“(1): strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (maternal love for a child) (2):  attraction based on sexual desire (3): affection and tenderness felt by lovers (After all these years, they are still very much in love.) (4): affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests (love for his old schoolmates) (6): an assurance of affection (give her my love).”

Having listed those definitions above and if you ask me, my personal definition of love is this:

“LOVE is something that is too great, too deep and too beautiful too be fully understood. Love is not for the weak of heart, but for the strong. Love is for those who are willing to discover it’s many expressions until they reach the highest extent that any individual can fully give or receive within his or her lifetime. Love cannot be humanly speaking, fully comprehensible…” Irmz

Why did I say that? Isn’t LOVE the reason why some men in their limited capacity to understand it are driven to addiction or obsession? Men and women alike long for this feeling to satisfy their emotions – their souls; that in some instances forces them to commit unlawful, criminal and illicit acts just to satisfy it. All because, they lived to believe that love is something to be received – something to be taken from others.

In conclusion, and to bring some light to this profound thing called love, let us ask the One who authored it, after all GOD is LOVE. 1 John 4:8

What is Love?

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What is LOVE?

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13 New International Version

So there you have it, the definition of LOVE in it’s highest form. May I also add and put emphasis on it that we can only draw this kind of love from God. Nowhere in this world can we search for it, and no one person – let me repeat that again – NO ONE PERSON has the capacity to give it all to us, but only a weak expression of it in part; and only if that person has also received the same from none other than JESUS.

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?

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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.

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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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Childhood Conditions, Mommy Diaries

When to Seek Professional Help When Your Child is Sick?

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A healthy child puts on a good smile on his face.

Would you believe if I’d say that my son at 18 had never been admitted in the hospital? Not once? Yes, not even once. It’s not to say that I am a perfect mom or that I did not have awful days for the past 18 years. Like most moms do, I went crazy calming Josh as he kept crying during his teething period, ran around giving sponge baths for his fever after his vaccine shots, and I definitely had bouts of losing my sense of reason when he had his asthma attacks. Name them, and I’d say yeah I endured them too, but there’s nothing compared to the feeling of nurturing a child no matter how difficult it may be.

As a nurse, I give credit to my nursing teachers who taught me well, and my colleagues who gave me an avenue to enjoy teaching and  learning at the same time. Then there were the hundreds of patients who gave me an opportunity to gather a wealth of priceless experiences. All these are well kept in my treasure box. Then, I salute my mother, sister, sisters in law, mother in law and mommy friends who all modeled to me how it is to be a great  “MOM”.

I’d have to say, God has blessed me with the knowledge I need, given me the experiences that I can handle, and gifted me with wisdom from all the moms I know. As I gathered all these, I was spared some sleepless nights and anxious days from the burden of a hospital admission. It also meant that we saved some amount of money as we stayed in the comforts of our home during those difficult days.

So having been a nurse for 24 years and a mom for 18, I thought it proper to share what I learned over the past 2 decades. So, I made a summary of the things (but they are not limited to these) that need your immediate attention, and which tells you that it’s time to seek professional help.

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Telltale Warning Signs:

Infants (0 to 12 months)

  • Fever that does not disappear after 24 hours or is not associated with teething or vaccination
  • Convulsions
  • Swollen Fontanelle (the soft spot at the top of the head)
  • Rashes
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea (if it’s more than 3 times, immediately seek professional help)
  • Appears limp, flushed or pale
  • Cries a lot, irritable and is inconsolable (this is usually a sign of pain)
  • Fast Breathing
  • Has trouble swallowing and does not feed well

Older Kids (1 year old and up)

  • Fever:
    • that does not disappear after 24 hours
    • that occurs when there is no obvious reason for it
    • that can be caused by seasonal illnesses like measles, hay fever, chicken pox or hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD)
    • that is not associated with a previous vaccination.
    • that is accompanied by cough and cold, stomach flu, painful urination, sore throat or other unusual symptoms
  • Rashes
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea (if it’s more than 5 times, immediately seek professional help)
  • Keeps touching or scratching particular body parts like the eyes, ears or private areas
  • Unusual lack of interest to play
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Wheezing or crackling sound with breathing especially with a history of asthma

As a rule of thumb, I’d say timely response and immediate professional care should not be delayed when there is a need for it. You as a mom should know your child well, which means a slight change in physical signs or behavior tells you a lot about his or health condition. The old cliché, “an ounce of prevention is better than cure” will keep you from a lot of trouble.

Media Credits:
Child Health: http://www.emmasdiary.co.uk/images/default-source/toddler/child-healtha43ddf84491d6e5b9e79ff0000427a78.jpg?sfvrsn=0
Childhood Diseases: http://www.newagepregnancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Childhood-diseases.jpg
Keep me Home: https://littletulipsfamilychildcare.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/sick.jpg
Suddenly Ill: http://www.cobbk12.org/mccleskey/sick.jpg
Crying baby: http://www.healthyhappysleep.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/crying-baby-girl.jpg
Baby is Sick: http://www.eurotrauma.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/baby-sick.jpg

Resources:
School Children: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/Symptom-Checker/Pages/default.aspx

atnurse
Ears, Nose and Throat, Healthy Living, Immune System

Did You Know that You Can Develop Allergies even When You Didn’t Have them as a Child?

A few months ago, two cases of allergy were brought to my attention from two women who both said they were unexpected – the reason being for this blog, which is by the way long overdue.

One of the two women had a bothersome itch on her neck, while the other had a near death experience with her husband who was rushed to the hospital due to anaphylactic shock. In both instances though, one thing was common – both individuals never had any history of allergy in the past. So, what just happened?

Upon probing, it turned out that the first woman vacuumed her house in the middle of a hot summer day, and only after a few hours, she developed red rashes on her neck that felt itchy. My analysis: the vacuuming stirred up the dust particles into the air making its way to her nostrils. This gave easy access for the allergens found in the waste products of the dust mites to enter her body, leading to an unexpected allergic reaction.

The husband, on the other hand, ate mackerel sushi for dinner that the wife bought from a local supermarket and prepared personally. This fish according to her is a usual viand in their home, so she had the slightest idea that this would cause her husband’s near death experience. Imagine her shock when after a few hours, her husband suddenly lost consciousness while preparing for bed that night. She recalled feeling so scared and confused while calling for the emergency services. My analysis: her husband had what is called, Scombroid Fish Poisoning. Here is a detailed explanation of this condition:

“This is an allergy like reaction that occurs after eating fish that have been improperly refrigerated after capture. Bacteria in and on the fish break down proteins into histamine, one of the major mediators of allergic reactions. Fish with a high content of red meat, which turns brown upon cooking are commonly involved such as mackerel, tuna, king fish, herring, sardines, marlin, anchovies and bluefish. Affected fish often have a metallic or peppery taste. Symptoms usually commence within 30 minutes of eating, and include flushing, itch, hives (urticaria), nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, dizziness, palpitations and headache. Severe episodes may result in wheezing and dizziness or a drop in blood pressure.” Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy

Factors that Trigger Adult Onset Allergy:

Genetic History

An allergy can occur anytime during your lifetime if you have the dormant antibodies in your body, and yes, even if you didn’t have them during your childhood.

Exposure to High Levels of the Allergen

Sometimes, exposure to small levels of an allergen does not cause any reaction, but high titers of the same will cause moderate to severe allergic reactions.

Compromised Immune System

A poor immune system is not a very good defense in combating the effects of allergens during an allergic reaction process.

Allergies are common occurrences that can manifest in many ways such as rhinitis, asthma, skin rashes, dermatitis or in more serious cases anaphylaxis. Whatever the cause, however, points to a particular allergen as the culprit. In the medical community we call it “antigen-antibody reaction” where a foreign object or allergen, referred to as the “antigen” triggers an attack to a person who has a dormant antibody.  Once triggered, the “antibody” cascades a host of reactions in response to the “antigen”, which can vary from a simple rash to a fatal anaphylactic shock.

“The term atopic allergy implies a familial tendency to manifest such conditions as asthma, rhinitis, urticaria, and eczematous dermatitis (atopic dermatitis) alone or in combination. However, individuals without an atopic background may also develop hypersensitivity reactions, particularly urticaria and anaphylaxis, associated with the same class of antibody, IgE, found in atopic individuals. Inasmuch as the mast cell is the key effector cell of the biologic response in allergic rhinitis, urticaria, anaphylaxis, and systemic mastocytosis, the introduction to these clinical problems will consider the developmental biology, activation pathway, product profile, and target tissues for this cell type.” Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th Edition

atnurse
Know your “Asthma Triggers”

What should be done to avoid such fateful episodes?

  1. Dig in your family’s health history. If you have anyone among your relatives from (at least) the past two generations who had a history of allergy in any form, chances are, you might also have this dormant antibody genotype.
  2. Take a mental note of any incidence that caused you symptoms like rashes, sneezing, stomach upset, eye irritation and other unusual episodes that are not directly related to any bacterial or viral exposure. These incidents might give you a clue of possible antigens or “trigger allergens“.
  3. Avoid exposure to your “trigger allergens” at all cost.
  4. Invest in your health and keep your immune system in constant optimal condition. You can do this by eating healthy, exercising regularly, sleeping sufficiently, hydrating adequately, avoiding stress and keeping well-nourished cells.

It’s difficult to say when an allergy will hit just like what these two women experienced; especially when the cause or trigger is unknown. In these cases, however, both persons probably have the dormant antibody that reacted instantly upon exposure to the allergen. So, I’d say that the best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to be informed of your health exposure and risk factors.

The prudent understand where they are going and they carefully consider their steps. Proverbs 14: 8, 15 (NLT)

Resources:
Anaphylaxis: http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/anaphylaxis.aspx
Dust Mites: https://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=18&cont=228
Allergic and toxic reactions to seafood: http://www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/allergic-and-toxic-reactions-to-seafood

Media Credits:
Dust Mites: http://www.pestfreeliving.ca/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/7020081293_00a1f35a2a.jpg
Dust Mite Allergy: http://www.aamfoundation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/girl-with-back-rash.jpg
Scombroid Poisoning: http://image.slidesharecdn.com/foodpoisoning-120213022212-phpapp01/95/food-poisoning-21-728.jpg?cb=1329101316
Mackerel: http://paleodiet.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/mackerel.jpg
Asthma Triggers: http://www.smerete.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Smerete_Types_Of_Asthma.png