Other Stuff, Part 4: Fire Ants

WayBack Machine

 

This one is from the WayBack machine.

I’m trying to work out the year – we bought our first time share while I was being diagnosed with Cushing’s so this was some time after 1987.  We never stayed in that time share, just used it for trade.  This particular year, we’d traded for a place in Arkansas (not too exciting, but drivable from home) but they had a fire so they offered us a 3-bedroom house in Hilton Head instead.  Of course, we accepted that offer!

We located a kennel fairly nearby to leave our dog.  We were so sure she’d love the ocean just like the dogs on TV do, running and playing in the water. She was a retriever so she could swim out and fetch frisbees and such.  HA!

We packed up the dog and our stuff and made the long drive down to South Carolina.  We dropped her off at the kennel and found our home for the next week.  Absolutely beautiful, on a little lagoon, in the middle of a golf course community. Our son had the upstairs all to himself and he loved that.

Our lagoon had an alligator and one day the young boy next door was out on the porch.  We could see the alligator eyes watching him…and waiting.  Luckily, nothing happened!

We took the dog out of the kennel and onto the beach and all those years of instincts failed her.  When a wave came in, she tried to bite it – and swallowed.  She was – ahem – sick as a dog for the rest of the trip.  So much for running and playing in the waves.

When our son got out of the water, we realized that he had some sting marks on his leg.  Most likely from a jelly fish someone said.  Great!

Our house had come with bikes and we used them to ride all over the golf course and out into Hilton Head sometimes.  This evening, we were riding along the street and there was a red light.  We stopped and I put my foot down on the pavement.  Naturally, I was wearing sandals.  Naturally, I’d stepped into a fire ant nest.

The rest of the trip was awful. Burning, itching, pain.  The ant bites seemed like they were increasing in number, not getting better.

It was the end of the week, so we headed home.  I was in misery all the way.

First off, I saw my PCP who prescribed something for me.  I think it might have been an antibiotic but I can’t remember.  I woke up that night, red, itchy, broken out in hives.

About 3AM, DH took me to the ER – I was having an allergic reaction to the meds.  Great!  They pumped me full of epinephrine and I started to get better.

The next morning I was back at the PCP for another drug.  I took that for one dose and had the worst nightmares of my life.  I went back to the PCP the next day and he said that no one had reported nightmares from that drug and I told him to alert whoever – one person had had them.

And I got another drug.  This one finally worked and the ant bites and the infection that they’d caused finally started going away.

Will I ever go back to Hilton Head?  I don’t know.  I do know I won’t ride a bicycle wearing sandals at dusk.  That’s for sure!

Heart Attacks and Depression

Studies show that 48 percent of people can develop depression following a heart attack. But experts say this depression may not be purely psychological. After a cardiac event, the heart may be unable to pump blood as efficiently—causing patients to lose energy.

In addition, chemicals are released in the brain that can work to physiologically cause mood changes. Interestingly, the same study showed that women who suffer heart attacks are 20 percent more likely to develop depression.

The good news: most of these cases can be treated with anti-depressant drugs.

Twitter Chat on Heart Health February 28 at 1:PM Eastern

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Don’t forget to join the Twitter Chat on heart health tomorrow, February 28 from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET.

This hour-long chat which will feature two leading interventional cardiologists, Dr. John P. Reilly, from Ochsner Medical Center, and Dr. Herbert D. Aronow, from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.

They will be sharing their expertise and life-saving tips on heart disease prevention, risks, recognizing the symptoms, treatment options, as well as women and heart health.

Mended Hearts is joining the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) and USA Today health reporter Liz Szabo in hosting this Twitter Chat.

If you have a question or want to share your heart story then join this hour-long chat.

You can participate or follow along by using the hashtag #heartchat.

7 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Without Medication

Blood pressure check

Blood pressure check (Photo credit: Army Medicine)

Whether you’re among the 1 in 3 Americans with high blood pressure or have so far avoided this deadly disease, these tips will help prevent becoming a statistic.

Heart disease and stroke rank among the top five causes of death in the U.S. They’re also both commonly caused by one condition: hypertension.

One in three Americans suffer from this often symptom-less condition, also known as high blood pressure and the silent killer.

“You can have it for years without knowing it,” say the National Institutes of Health. “During this time, though, HBP can damage your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body.”

The ideal blood pressure reading is generally 120/80, with higher readings considered pre-hypertension or, if over 140/90, hypertension.

If you don’t know what your blood pressure is, step one is finding out by checking with your doctor. In the long run, that visit will cost less than letting the problem remain undiagnosed – and uncontrolled. Even if you require medication, it’s cheaper than the long-term costs and complications of untreated high blood pressure.

In some cases, high BP can be managed or prevented by low-cost lifestyle changes alone. So in honor of Heart Month, we’ve rounded them up…

  • Pass the salt. Limiting sodium helps control high blood pressure in those who have it and helps prevent it in those who don’t. According to government dietary guidelines, adults should limit their daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg. But for people with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic liver disease; children; adults over age 50; and African-Americans – about half the U.S. – the limit is 1,500 mg. Beware especially of processed and packaged foods, fast foods, and canned foods – all common sources of excessive salt.
  • Eat enough potassium. This mineral helps lower blood pressure. The recommended daily intake for adults is 4,700 mg. Bananas average 451 mg – foods with even more include cantaloupe, avocados, dates, raisins, dried apricots, prune juice, baked potatoes (with the skins), yogurt, sardines, and flounder. Check out the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s downloadable list of Sources of Dietary Potassium for more.
  • Change your diet. The DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, helps fight high blood pressure by emphasizing fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. U.S. News & World Report also recently ranked it the No. 1 best diet overall, No. 1 best diet for healthy eating, and even the No. 1 best diabetes diet. Check out Dr. Oz’s recent segment about the diet to learn more.
  • Watch your weight. Blood pressure tends to increase as weight does. Last year, a University of Illinois study found that even among hearty college students, a weight gain of as little as 1.5 pounds was enough to raise BP. Fortunately, it’s also true that BP tends to drop as weight does.
  • Relax. The connection between stress and high blood pressure isn’t fully understood. But researchers do know that (1) stressful situations can cause temporary BP spikes and (2) stress management and stress-lowering activities can help lower BP, according to the Mayo Clinic. Getting enough sleep, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and exercise can help reduce stress. Check out 7 Cheap Ways to Relieve Stress for more ideas.
  • Avoid alcohol. According to the Mayo Clinic, not only does too much alcohol raise blood pressure, repeated excess drinking can lead to long-term BP increases. Women should limit themselves to one drink, men to two.
  • Indulge in dark chocolate instead. An Australian study published last year found that a daily dose of dark chocolate or other cocoa products rich in natural compounds called “flavanols” helped to lower blood pressure. Just don’t overdo it and gain weight.

From MoneyTalksNews

Coronary Artery Bypass (CABG) Surgery

Three coronary artery bypass grafts, a LIMA to...

Three coronary artery bypass grafts, a LIMA to LAD and two saphenous vein grafts – one to the right coronary artery (RCA) system and one to the obtuse marginal (OM) system. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Your doctor has recommended that you have coronary artery bypass surgery. But what does that actually mean?

Your heart is located in the center of your chest. It is surrounded by your rib cage and protected by your breastbone. Your heart’s job is to keep blood continually circulating throughout your body.
The vessels that supply the body with oxygen-rich blood are called arteries.

The vessels that return blood to the heart are called veins.
Like any other muscle in the body, the heart depends on a steady supply of oxygen rich blood. The arteries that carry this blood supply to the heart muscle are called coronary arteries.

Sometimes, these blood vessels can narrow or become blocked by deposits of fat, cholesterol and other substances collectively known as plaque.
Over time, plaque deposits can narrow the vessels so much that normal blood flow is restricted. In some cases, the coronary artery becomes so narrow that the heart muscle itself is in danger.

Coronary bypass surgery attempts to correct this serious problem. In order to restore normal blood flow, the surgeon removes a portion of a blood vessel from the patient’s leg or chest, most probably the left internal mammary artery and the saphenous vein.

Your doctor uses one or both of these vessels to bypass the old, diseased coronary artery and to build a new pathway for blood to reach the heart muscle. These transplanted vessels are called grafts and depending on your condition, your doctor may need to perform more than one coronary artery bypass graft.

Of course, operating on the heart is a complex and delicate process and in the case of bypass surgery, your doctor will most likely need to stop your heart before installing the graft.

During the time that your heart is not beating, a special machine, called a heart-lung machine, will take over the job of circulating and oxygenating your blood.

By using this machine, your doctor is able to repair the heart without interfering with the blood flow to the rest of the body.

Following surgery, your heart will be restarted and you will be disconnected from the heart-lung machine

More on the Mediterranean Diet for heart health.

Rehabilitate Your Heart

The recent study on the Mediterranean diet decreasing the risk of heart attack is all over the news and the emphasis seems to be on eating healthy fats and nuts. To me that is important but don’t overlook the vegetables.  The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains which provide good sources of fiber.

While working in cardiac rehabilitation I regularly reviewed patients diets. One very consistent issue was lack of eating enough dietary fiber. Many do not get adequate intake of vegetables, legumes and seeds. It wasn’t uncommon for a significant other to shake their head and report their loved one never eats vegetables, or if they do it is only one or two types, such as corn, and carrots. When discussing intakes of legumes, you would see many look at you with that what is she talking about face. I don’t want heart patients to think of…

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Mediterranean Diet

Fresh vegetarian pasta (2528005054)

Fresh vegetarian pasta (2528005054) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A randomized, multicenter trial conducted in Spain found that a Mediterranean diet resulted in a reduction in the incidence of major cardiovascular (CV) events and a 30 percent relative risk reduction in major CV events over a 4.8-year follow-up period.

The trial results were published on Feb. 25 in The New England Journal of Medicine. The PREDIMED (Preventión con Dieta Mediterránea) trial compared the consumption of a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil or nuts vs. a control diet among 7,447 individuals at high risk of CV disease (CVD) but with no CVD at enrollment. Individuals in the trial had either type 2 diabetes or at least three of seven major CV risk factors — smoking, hypertension, elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, were overweight or obese, or had a family history of premature coronary heart disease.

Results showed the group of participants assigned to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil had 96 primary endpoint events (a composite of myocardial infarction, stroke and death from cardiovascular causes), those assigned to a Mediterranean diet supplemented by mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) had 83 events and the control group had 109 events (p = 0.015). The Mediterranean diets resulted in an absolute risk reduction of three major CV events per 1,000 person-years.

A traditional Mediterranean diet consists of high amounts of olive oil, fruit, vegetables, nuts and cereals; moderate amounts of fish and poultry; and low amounts of dairy products, sweets, red meats and processed meats. Participants assigned to the Mediterranean diet groups significantly increased weekly servings of fish and legumes, as well as olive oil and nuts, depending on the group they were in.

According to the study authors, the results of the trial might explain, in part, CV mortality rates among Mediterranean countries compared with mortality rates in northern European countries and the U.S. They note that the dietary supplements of extra-virgin olive oil and nuts were possibly responsible for most of the observed benefits of the Mediterranean diets.

From CardioSource – Mediterranean Diet Major CV Events.  The original link also includes a video