May is Stroke Awareness Month - Be Stroke Smart
Every year nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke. Stroke can affect anyone at any time. Although risk increases with age, young- and middle-aged adults, children and even newborns are all susceptible. Stroke is the third leading cause of death for U.S. women, and the fifth for U.S. men.
May is Stroke Awareness Month, which is the National Stroke Associations annual campaign to raise awareness about stroke and inspire action. We can all become 'stroke smart' and learn about the signs and symptoms of stroke and how to help ourselves or loved ones who may be having a stroke.
F.A.S.T - Knowing the Symptoms
Stroke warning signs and symptoms are important for everyone to be able to identify, because most often bystanders are the ones who can recognize them and call 9-1-1. The acronym F.A.S.T. has been developed to help people recognize a stroke. F.A.S.T. stands for:
F - Face drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
A - Arm weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S - Speech difficulty: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak, or are hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence such as "The sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
T - Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if they symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Download this free mobile app for iOS and Android, "Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T." to help recognize a stroke now! This app also includes a searchable map to find hospitals near you that have been recognized for heart and stroke care. When stroke symptoms occur, time is the essence to seek medical attention in order to prevent long-term complications or even death.
You can also download El Camino Hospital's Being Stroke Smart! tip sheet, so when a stroke occurs quick action can be taken to save you or someone you love!
El Camino Hospital's Los Gatos and Mountain View campuses have received the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission for disease-specific care certification. Our campuses have received this designation by demonstrating that our stroke programs are meeting and exceeding national standards and guidelines that can significantly improve outcomes for stroke.
The El Camino Hospital Stroke Team will determine the best treatment plan for each stroke patient, and we offer comprehensive round-the-clock services. See what the El Camino Hospital's Stroke Center can offer you.
Take action this stroke month and 'Be Stroke Smart'!
Seniors: Are Cataracts Clouding Your Vision?
Approximately 21 million American adults have cataracts – a progressive buildup of protein on the eye lens that can lead to loss of vision. This buildup makes the lens cloudy and prevents light from passing clearly through the lens, causing loss in vision.
Types of cataracts:
- Age-related cataracts. Nearly half of the population will develop cataracts by the time they reach age 65, generally as a result of the aging process.
- Congenital cataracts. Babies can sometimes be born with cataracts as a result of an infection, injury, or poor development before they were born, or may develop during childhood.
- Secondary cataracts. These develop as a result of other medical conditions, like diabetes, or exposure to toxic substances, certain drugs (such as corticosteroids or diuretics), ultraviolet light, or radiation.
- Traumatic cataracts. These generally form after an injury to the eye.
Besides age, other things that can increase a person's risk of developing cataracts include cigarette smoke, air pollution, and heavy alcohol consumption.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
Cataracts generally form very slowly and cause few symptoms until they noticeably block light. Symptoms can include:
- Cloudy, blurry, foggy or filmy vision
- Progressive nearsightedness in older people
- Changes in the way color is seen
- Problems driving at night because of glare, or problems with glare during the day
- Double vision
- Sudden changes in glasses prescription
If vision problems are interfering with your daily activities, you should consider treatment options.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common and safest outpatient procedures. At the El Camino Eye Center of Excellence, many cataracts are removed with groundbreaking laser surgery that leverages the same technology used in LASIK eye surgery. El Camino Hospital Ambulatory Surgery Center is one of the first Bay Area surgery centers to use the femtosecond laser, which allows the damaged lens to be removed and replaced with greater accuracy and precision. Recovery is fast, and most patients are comfortable returning to their normal activities the very next day. Learn more about laser technology here.
To find out if laser cataract surgery is right for you, call 844-765-1344 to make an appointment with one of board-certified ophthalmologists at the El Camino Ambulatory Surgery Center's Eye Center of Excellence today.
Blood Pressure: Know Your Numbers
When it comes to your "health numbers," your two blood pressure values are important to know—and keep under control. Millions of Americans have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. It is the most common risk factor for heart attack and stroke. High blood pressure can also lead to kidney failure, aneurysm (weakening or bulging of blood vessel walls), damaged blood vessels in the eyes, and vascular dementia (the second leading cause of memory loss and thinking problems). In addition, people with high blood pressure may also suffer from sleep issues, such as sleep apnea, sexual dysfunction, and atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).
Unfortunately, many people don't know that they have high blood pressure, and many others don't realize how serious it can be. Treatment can lower blood pressure, yet less than half of Americans with high blood pressure have it under control. And it's not just a concern for older adults: nearly 10% of males and 8% of females aged 20-44 suffer from high blood pressure today. That's why it's important for adults of all ages to know the risks of high blood pressure, and understand what steps they can take to prevent it or manage it more effectively.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. The heart pumps blood into the arteries (blood vessels), which carry the blood throughout the body. When your blood pressure is high, the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the body. This may contribute to hardening of the arteries and to the development of heart failure.
What Is "Normal" Blood Pressure?
A blood pressure reading has a top number (systolic) and bottom number (diastolic). What is currently considered normal may change based on your individual situation, so we recommend that you speak with your doctor. The typical ranges are:
- Normal: Less than 120 over 80 (120/80)
- Pre-hypertension: 120-139 over 80-89
- Stage 1 high blood pressure: 140-159 over 90-99
- Stage 2 high blood pressure: 160 and above over 100 and above
- High blood pressure in people over age 60: 150 and above over 90 and above
Can High Blood Pressure Be Prevented?
The exact causes of high blood pressure are not known, but family history, age, kidney disease, and adrenal or thyroid disorders may all play a role. However, there are many risk factors that can be managed with lifestyle changes, including:
- Diet: Each a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Sodium: Sodium increases blood pressure in some people, but avoiding processed foods or using too much salt can help
- Exercise: Make regular physical activity a priority
- Weight: If you are overweight, losing just a little weight can make a big difference
- Stress: Reduce stress and learn what stress management techniques work for you
- Smoking: Don't smoke or quit smoking
- Medication: Take all prescribed medications as directed by your doctor
- Alcohol: Limit alcohol consumption to one or two drinks per day.
To learn more about your overall heart health, take our free Heart Health Profiler now.
Not sure what your blood pressure is? Find out with a free blood pressure screening. El Camino Hospital offers free blood pressure screenings every Friday from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. at the Health Library & Resource Center on our Mountain View Campus. Learn more.
What is the Healthy Habits Project?
Guest article by: Nurse Barb
Barbara Dehn RN, MS, NP is a practicing Nurse Practitioner and a health expert, known as Nurse Barb. She is locally based and works with El Camino Hospital to share health information with the community.
Women always ask me "What's the best thing I can do to be healthy?" Or "What's the secret? Is there a magic pill, supplement or food from a faraway land that will instantly make me healthy? Maybe a recently discovered way of exercising?" Hmmm….. sound familiar?
We're all looking for the newest, latest and easiest ways to get healthy. We want to wave a magic wand and presto-chango be healthy overnight. Could there be a hidden, simple solution? If you guessed no, then guess again!
Better health can be simple. Living healthier is attainable and is a lot easier than most people think. How is this possible? Well, we have to start by changing the way we think about getting healthy. Because many of us assume it will be too hard and too overwhelming, we give up before we even get started. Changing the way we think is the key. Instead of focusing on what you hate doing, turn it upside down and find what you like – and will look forward to doing.
I have a patient, Claire* who adamantly refused to ever go to a gym. She felt judged and thought she didn't fit in there. She wasn't able to walk around her block without feeling winded. Then she realized that she loved the Rose Garden in San Jose and wanted to see the flowers every day. So she found a buddy to go with her, and started slowly with a goal that she could manage. At first it was only going a 1/4 of the way around and then turning back. She walked slowly, but over time, she was able to build up to longer and longer walks. Now, Claire walks around the Rose Garden several times every day, and is able to easily walk 2-3 miles without feeling exhausted. Claire told me that she feels better and has more energy than ever before and that it surprised her how she could improve her health at her own pace.
Claire's success is one reason why the Healthy Habits Project for women that just launched through El Camino Hospital is so brilliant. This project focuses on a few proven principles:
- Find an activity you like
- Set small, achievable goals
- Buddy up with a friend
- Make the activity part of your regular routine
It's that simple. Really. We know from years and years of research that regular activity is one of the keys to better health. You may enjoy walking with a friend, cycling or hiking in the hills. Perhaps it's a trip to the gym, or a class. Maybe you prefer swimming or yoga? It really doesn't matter what you do. What matters is that you find something you like and then do it regularly.
I know from my own experience and from my patients that getting started is the hardest part. But once they do start, most women can't imagine not exercising and staying active. Last year, Claire had trouble climbing a single flight of stairs. Now she's planning a hiking trip in the Sierras. She started off slowly, walked at least six days each week, and now there's no stopping her!
Making it Even Easier to Get Started
Maybe you already exercise, or maybe you want to take up hiking, biking or swimming. Maybe you already run marathons, or maybe that's your goal. Either way, please share your story on the Healthy Habits Project so you can inspire other women, and get some additional inspiration for yourself. When you click through, you'll be entered to win some fun prizes. You can also upload photos and videos. Here's an inspiring video from one remarkable woman to get you started.
Disclosure: I am working with El Camino Hospital to help promote the Healthy Habits Project to our community. I'm working on committing to my own Healthy Habits and hope you will too.
* Not her real name
Men: Save the Date - June 14th
El Camino Hospital is pleased to announce that our annual Men's Health Fair will be held on Saturday, June 14th at our Los Gatos campus. This is a great opportunity to learn about the latest innovations in men's health, see demonstrations of cutting-edge laser and robotic surgery options, and meet physician specialists from all areas of men's health including:
- Internal Medicine
- Ear, Nose and Throat
- Sleep Disorders
Free health screenings will also be conducted, and a barbeque lunch will be served.
Watch your email for registration information, including your VIP invitation for screenings. Plus, register for the health fair and you'll be entered into a drawing for some great prizes.
Come alone or come with your spouse or friends – but don't miss out on the important information you need to stay healthy and live well.
The days are getting longer and warmer, which means more daylight to take care of your health! Remember, just a few minutes a day spent on healthy habits can make a big difference. This month, try incorporating these into your daily routine, and see how much better you feel in just a few weeks:
Suffer from chronic sinus pressure? Try using a saline mixture (water and salt) as a nasal spray to loosen mucus and rinse your sinuses.
Reach for a non-fat yogurt when you're feeling hungry. The probiotic benefits of yogurt include improved immune function, decreased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure, and better digestion
Attack allergy season before it hits! Vacuum every carpeted area in your home and discard old throw blankets and pillows.
Plan a family activity that involves moving, such as bike riding, throwing a ball, or going to the park. Getting your whole family on the right track and at the same time strengthening your bonds as a family.