News

Exercise – Put Your Heart Into It!

According to Strava, a social network for athletes, most people by now have given up on their New Year’s resolutions (“Quitters’ Day” was officially Jan. 12). For those whose healthy resolutions may have fallen victim to that day, here is something to consider: According to the American Heart Association, moderate-intensity exercise is important in preventing heart disease and stroke, which are the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers, respectively.

So, how do you gauge if your exercise is at the “moderate” level?

First, pay attention to how hard you think your body is working (this is called perceived exertion). Take note of how heavy you’re breathing, how much you’re sweating, and how tired your muscles feel. Studies have shown that an individual’s perceived exertion correlates to his or her heart rate. This means that if you feel like you’re working hard, your heart rate is probably higher.

You can estimate if you’re reaching the moderate-intensity level of an activity by using perceived exertion. In general, on a scale of 1-20, a moderate-intensity activity would feel like an 11-14.
Other clues of this level of exercise include:

  • Breaking a light sweat at about 10 minutes into the exercise
  • Quickened breathing, but you’re not out of breath
  • Being able to carry on a conversation while performing the activity

Moderate-intensity exercises can include brisk walking, biking, pushing a lawn mower, water aerobics, doubles tennis, gardening, and ballroom dancing, among other activities. So, take your pick!

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ASPEN 2018 Nutrition Science and Practice Conference

Registered dietitians Anne Woodbury, of Utah Valley Specialty Hospital, and Jill Marshall, of Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital, recently were selected to present a poster on an initiative regarding how nutrition affect patients on ventilators at the national ASPEN 2018 Nutrition Science and Practice Conference in Las Vegas.

Titled “Nutrition Administration and Ventilator Weaning in Long-Term Acute Care,” the abstract also was published in the January 2018 Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition supplement.

These dietitians have been working on data collections and how nutrition promotes successful ventilator weaning.

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Cold Weather Tips for Those with COPD

Staying warm in cold, winter weather is important for most people. But for individuals with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), staying warm is necessary for better lung function.

Cold weather can cause flare-ups in folks with COPD, worsening symptoms that can include coughing, shortness of breath and phlegm production.

So, how can you best manage COPD symptoms in colder weather? Below are a few tips:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf or mask when you go outside. Breathe through your nose to help warm the air entering your lungs.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Keep your body warm and comfortable by wearing layers of clothes that allow you to adjust to the temperature.
  • If you use oxygen, keep your tubing under your coat or clothing to help keep the air as warm as possible.
  • If the weather is bad, consider changing your schedule to avoid going out in it if possible.
  • When inside, don’t use fireplaces. The wood can cause smoke build-up which can also aggravate COPD symptoms.
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Heads Up on Preventing Brain Injuries

With the Winter Olympics on the horizon, many of us will be privy to some amazing athletic feats. But, a downside of this popular event includes the head injuries that have been known to come with the territory.

In the past, American Jackie Hernandez slid unconscious against the snow after hitting her head during a snowboard cross event. British halfpipe skier Rowan Cheshire suffered a concussion during a training session. Czech snowboarder Sarka Pancochova cracked her helmet during a fall during the slopestyle final. And at 20 years old, American snowboarder Trevor Jacob had already suffered at least 25 concussions.

While the majority of us don’t live the dare-devil lives of many of these athletes, we’re all at risk for head injuries with everyday activities. Brain injuries don’t discriminate and can occur anytime, anywhere…with anyone.

With a little planning, however, brain injuries can be prevented. And, it doesn’t take epic – or Olympian – effort:

  • Wear your seatbelt every time you’re in a car.
  • Buckle your child in the right safety seat, booster or seat belt based upon your child’s age and weight.
  • Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Shut your cell phone off while in the car. Don’t talk. Don’t text.
  • Wear a helmet. And, make sure your children wear helmets with appropriate activities.
  • For older adults, remove tripping hazards like throw rugs or clutter in in the home. Use non-slip mats in the bathroom and grab bars near the shower or toilet. Install handrails on all stairs. Improve lighting throughout the house.
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Brighten the Holidays for a Hospitalized Loved One

If you have a friend or family member in the hospital during the holidays, there are numerous ways to help brighten his or her spirits and spread some holiday cheer (with pre-approval from the hospital staff, of course):

  1. Help relieve the patient’s stress. If your family member is concerned or worried about tasks that he or she usually performs around the holidays, offer to help. Purchase presents or address holiday cards for the individual (you may even be able to shop online or work on cards together at the hospital).
  2. Decorate the patient’s room with a small tree, menorah, festive blanket, New Year’s hats, or even some drawings from children in your family.
  3. Bring the holidays to the hospital. If your loved one is receiving cards and presents at home, bring them to share. If you’re giving a holiday present, consider something that may be of use in the hospital, like a book or warm socks.
  4. If allowed, bring your loved one special treats or meals that he or she associates with the holidays. In addition, hospital cafeterias often provide special holiday meals that are offered to patients and visitors.
  5. Bring holiday DVDs or music to watch and listen to together in the room.

Most importantly, remember that your loved one is in the hospital to heal, so don’t overwhelm him or her. Typically, you’ll want to keep your visiting time short to allow plenty of time for rest and sleep, which is critical to recovery.

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Tis the Season…for Colds & the Flu

It’s that time of year again. Cold and flu season.

A common cold and the flu are similar because they’re both respiratory illnesses. Even though they’re caused by different viruses, they share many of the same symptoms. This makes it hard to know for sure which you may have unless you visit your doctor.

Symptoms for both illnesses can include a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fever, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. However, flu symptoms tend to be worse than cold symptoms, and people with colds are more likely to have runny or stuffy noses.

A cold usually doesn’t result in serious health problems, but the flu can. While most folks can recover from the flu in less than a couple weeks, it can lead to respiratory complications like bronchitis, pneumonia, and bacterial infections. In the worst cases, these complications can lead to hospitalization.

While anyone can get severely sick from the flu, groups at higher risk for complications include adults older than 65, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, or individuals with compromised immune systems.

So how can you prevent these illnesses? Some suggestions include:

  • Stay away from anyone who is sick, and stay away from others when you’re sick.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often throughout the day with hot water and soap. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if hand-washing isn’t possible.
  • Don’t share utensils, cups, toothbrushes, towels or any other personal items.
  • Keep your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Limit what you touch when in public, such as stairway rails. Wash your hands soon after touching.
  • Get plenty of sleep, eat right, and exercise regularly.
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10 Tips for Family Caregivers

Caring, giving, sharing.

For most people, the holidays bring out the best in us when it comes to going the extra mile. But for those who are family caregivers, this is a description of everyday life.

Whether you became a caregiver suddenly (grandma had a stroke), or gradually (aging parents), taking care of a loved one in addition to having a career, family, and children can be a challenge. So, how can a caregiver do it all?

Below are 10 tips for family caregivers provided by the Caregiver Action Network:

  1. Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone.
  2. Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
  3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.
  4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
  5. Take respite breaks often. Caregiving is hard work.
  6. Watch out for signs of depression. Don’t delay in getting professional help when you need it.
  7. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
  8. Organize medical information so it’s up-to-date and easy to find.
  9. Make sure legal documents are in order.
  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!
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6 Tips for Talking to Your Loved One about COPD

COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a lung disease that makes it hard for a person to breathe. At first, COPD may cause no symptoms or very mild symptoms like coughing, so people may ignore them thinking it’s not serious. But, eventually, the disease can make daily activities – like climbing stairs, cleaning the house, and even getting dressed – difficult.

If you suspect a loved one may have COPD, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggest these 6 tips in broaching the subject:

  1. Know what to look for to recognize the signs of COPD in your loved one. Shortness of breath, wheezing, or a chronic cough.
  2. Talk with your loved one about things they may be missing out on because of these symptoms, such as taking walks and playing with grandchildren.
  3. Talk with your loved one about how hard daily tasks like climbing stairs or grocery shopping have become for him or her, and suggest that it may be related to COPD.
  4. Encourage your loved one to schedule a visit with the doctor or healthcare provider. COPD can be diagnosed with a quick and painless breathing test called spirometry.
  5. Remind your loved one that the earlier a person receives treatment, the better the chances are to improve quality of life. There are many ways that the symptoms of the disease can be managed.
  6. Offer resources to help your loved one. Visit http://COPD.nhlbi.nih.gov to learn more about COPD and support groups in your loved one’s area.
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5 Facts about Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of the lungs that causes inflammation and fluid build-up, resulting in coughing, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. It can be most serious for infants, adults older than 65 years, and for individuals with weakened immune systems or existing health problems.

Pneumonia causes more than a million hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths every year.
Here are 5 facts about pneumonia that the American Lung Association thinks you should know:

  1. Anyone can get pneumonia, even if some are at higher risk.
  2. Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi.
  3. Flu is a common cause of pneumonia. So preventing the flu is a good way of reducing your risk of pneumonia.
  4. Complications from pneumonia are more likely to affect older adults, infants, and those with weakened immune systems or existing health problems.
  5. Good health habits can fight pneumonia. Wash your hands, follow a healthy diet, get adequate rest, exercise regularly, and don’t smoke. All these behaviors can help you prevent getting pneumonia. And if you do get sick, these good health habits will help promote faster recovery.
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Keep the Flu to Yourself, Please

Getting the flu can be an unpleasant event for even the most stoic among us. But for a hospitalized patient with a medically complex condition, it could pose a serious threat.

These patients often are receiving critical care services while recovering from conditions such as heart failure, respiratory failure, complex wound care, infectious diseases, and more. So if one of these individuals catches the flu, it could take an already serious situation and make it much worse.

Because they can’t limit contact with others who may be carrying the flu virus, these patients are at a disadvantage. With their health and immune systems already compromised, it can present these patients with a higher risk of getting the flu. This then can result in flu-related complications like pneumonia that can become severe and even life-threatening.

So, the bottom line?

If you’re visiting someone in the hospital, be cognizant of how you feel health-wise before you go. If you feel under the weather, stay home. And, if you feel healthy, stay that way. Get a flu shot. Wash your hands and cover your cough.

Prevention can go a long way in helping everyone this flu season.

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