Tag Archives: brain

Understand Heart Disease

Understand Heart Disease

It’s American Heart Month, and in honor of it, we want to help you better understand heart disease. Heart disease includes many problems caused by a substance called plaque building up in the arteries of your heart. This makes your arteries narrow, which makes it harder for blood to get through. Clogged Arteries   A heart attack is when blood flow to part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot in your arteries. If it cuts off blood flow completely, that part of the heart starts to die. How Heart Attacks Happen   The most common type of stroke is also caused by a blood clot that blocks blood flow to the brain, which can cause brain damage. The longer those cells go without blood, the more damage it causes. Blood Clots and Stroke   Heart failure is when the heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should be, so the cells in your body aren’t getting enough oxygen. The longer heart failure is untreated, the worse it gets. What's Heart Failure?   Heart arrhythmia is when your heart beat’s rhythm is off. It can be too fast, too slow, or just irregular. Learn more about arrhythmia. Understand Heart Arrhythmia   Heart valve disease is when your heart valves aren’t working correctly, like not opening enough, not closing properly, or bulging into a different part of the heart. Learn more about heart valve disease. Heart Valve Disease   Your yearly visits with your doctor should help identify risk factors or signs of heart disease. These screenings can help them find issues or recommend preventive steps.
Prematurity Awareness Month

Prematurity Awareness Month

It’s Prematurity Awareness Month, and a premature birth takes place more than 3 weeks before the expected due date.

Learn the signs and symptoms that you might be going into labor early.

Signs of Premature Labor

 

Some of the greatest risk factors for premature birth are previous premature births, a pregnancy with multiple babies, smoking or drug use, and going less than 6 months between pregnancies.

Risk Factors for Giving Birth Too Early

 

Premature babies can deal with mild symptoms or more serious complications. Some signs include a small size, sharper features from a lack of stored baby fat, low body temp, and trouble breathing or feeding.

Signs of Prematurity

 

Premature babies will likely need longer hospital stays. Your doctor and a specialized team help care for the baby and can explain what’s happening every step of the way.

Hospital Stays for Premature Labor

 

Short-term complications from premature birth can include issues with their lungs, heart, brain, blood, metabolism, and immune system.

Long-term complications from premature birth can include cerebral palsy, chronic health issues, and problems with their learning, vision, hearing, and teeth.

Complications from Premature Birth

 

If you’re at risk of a premature birth, your doctor might have you take progesterone supplements or have a surgical procedure on your cervix. They might also have you avoid vigorous activity or go on bed rest for the end of your pregnancy.

Preventing Premature Labor

Atrial Fibrillation Month

Atrial Fibrillation Month

It’s Atrial Fibrillation Month, and atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF, is a type of irregular heartbeat that can raise your risk of other health problems. Learn more.

Making Sense of Irregular Heartbeat

 

For most people, their heart beats between 60 and 100 times a minute. Those with AFib can have heart rates as high as 175 beats a minute.

AFib can feel like drums or thunder pounding in your chest or even flip-flopping in your chest. Talk to your doctor if you’ve experienced this kind of discomfort.

How AFib Feels

 

If you’re experiencing AFib and other issues, like shortness of breath with light physical activity, lightheadedness, dizziness, or fatigue, your heart might not be getting enough blood and oxygen out to your body.

AFib and Other Symptoms

 

AFib raises your risk of stroke by 5 times. It can allow clots to form, which can cause strokes that can cause serious damage to your tissue and brain.

AFib and Your Risk of Stroke

 

Some people may just have to cut caffeine in their diet to improve their AFib. Others may need special medication and treatment to address the underlying cause.

Cutting Caffeine for AFib

 

If you suffer from heartbeat irregularities, changes in your lifestyle, like being physically active, quitting smoking, or managing stress and your blood pressure can also help.

Improving AFib

Down the Rabbit Hole to Play

Long View: Disappearing Down Rabbit Holes

A few years back, some friends and I were camping just after Halloween at Indian Cave State Park in Nebraska.

The prior weekend, the park had hosted a “haunted” park drive-through where ghouls and ghosts good-naturedly jumped out to scare you in good, old-fashioned Halloween fun. While hiking on some trails high up above one of the park roads, we came across a straw-stuffed witch on a broom tied up by a rope to a tree. Untying the rope let this funny-looking witch fly out over the road and spook any car driving by. You can guess what happened next.

Brenda and Cathy (both grandmothers, by the way) agreed to be lookouts for approaching cars from around the bend. Vicki and Jackie lay down on their stomachs in the weeds to hide and relay the “get ready” sign. My buddy Fara and I held tight to the rope waiting for the “go” sign. When a car came up the road, we let our witch fly, shrieking with glee like 8-year-old naughty little boys and waving furiously at the cars we’d managed to scare below. Later, Fara marveled that she had not “played” like that in years. That statement has stuck with me all these years.

Why don’t adults play anymore? We pay money to take yoga and tai chi classes to try and clear our minds of the clutter of life. Self-help gurus tout their books about “living in the moment” or striving to “be present.” Really, isn’t that just playing? To me, playing is a special state of being where one loses all track of time and disappears down a rabbit hole that has nothing to do with lists, responsibilities, or errands. Playing definitely has nothing to do with CNN, the newspaper, or our Facebook page. Playing is the single-minded pursuit of something that does nothing but make us happy or relaxed or at peace.

I recently traveled down a rabbit hole on a Sunday afternoon and found myself wandering through a small-town cemetery looking for the graves of my great-grandparents Benjamin Hugo and Millie. I didn’t wake up with that idea on my agenda. I actually woke up that Sunday with no agenda at all. My yellow lab, Harvey Benjamin (named after my grandfather), and I had a lovely afternoon just wandering up and down the rows looking at names and noting dates and family connections. Happily, I not only found Benjamin Hugo and Millie’s graves but also the grave of my great-great-great-grandfather Hans Detlef, who was born in Germany in 1800 and died in Iowa in 1887.

No timelines, no reasons, just hanging out in a cemetery, which is probably weird to some, I agree, but it was a special day spent thinking about nothing much for me. It felt wonderful. It was like those worn-out areas of my brain that have to plan and decide and be a grown-up got a chance to power down for a while, to rest and recharge while running on power save mode in the background.

The amazing thing about it was I was deep into writer’s block at that point. I had no idea what I was going to write about for this monthly column. While that part of my brain was running on power save mode, the topic presented itself. Isn’t that cool? I also think my next dog might be named Hugo, although I recently found some ancestors in my tree named Ichabod and Wubba, so I might need a lot more dogs.

There is actual science behind the value of adults taking the time to play every now and then to reduce stress and improve their overall well-being, so let’s start playing.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Self-Care Month

Self-Care Month

It’s Self-Care Month, and if you’re not sure why self-care matters, these TED talks can explain why your emotional and physical health should be a priority.

If you’ve never focused on self-care before, these 10 habits are a great way to get started.

Taking Time for Yourself

 

Create a relaxing routine for self-care. Whether it’s herbal tea and reading a book before bed or coffee and the newspaper in the morning, taking structured time for yourself is a great way to wind down and prepare you for the next thing.

Relaxing Routines

 

Take a break from technology. Whether it’s picking up a book, heading outdoors, or just spending time with friends or family, turning off the news and social media can help you refocus on yourself.

A Break from Tech

 

If you need to be more mindful or focus on relaxation, even if it’s only for 5 minutes, find a meditation app that can help guide you.

Mindful Meditation

 

Learn something new. Cooking or baking new recipes, knitting, or playing an instrument requires you to focus but can also give you time to yourself.

Learn Something New

 

Mixing up your day-to-day routine, like taking a different route to work, can help you get out of a rut, and these little changes can help you create new neural pathways to keep the brain healthy and build new habits.

Changing Up Your Routine

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Brain Injury Awareness Month

It’s Brain Injury Awareness Month, and every 9 seconds, someone sustains a brain injury. Learn more about brain injuries.

Brain Injuries

 

Acquired brain injuries (ABIs) are ones that aren’t hereditary or from a degenerative disease. These can be caused by infection, electric shocks, nearly drowning, stroke, seizures, tumors, substance abuse, and overdose. 

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are from a trauma to the brain, and every day, 137 people die of TBI-related injuries. At least 5.3 million Americans live with a TBI-related disability.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

 

Opioid addictions and overdoses can cause permanent brain injuries and disabilities.

Opioids and Brain Injuries

 

Strokes are brain injuries that can permanently alter your life. Learn more about preventing strokes.

Preventing Strokes

 

Concussions are brain injuries, and without treatment, they can cause serious problems. But a better way to detect them might be on the way.

Concussions' Effects on the Brain

 

More than 13,000 service members and veterans are diagnosed with TBIs, and knowing the signs is key to getting help.

Military and Vet Brain Injuries

Preventing High Blood Pressure

Stroke Awareness Month and High Blood Pressure Education Month

It’s National Stroke Awareness Month and National High Blood Pressure Education Month. Learn more about managing your blood pressure.

Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Resources

Stroke is 1 of the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S., but it doesn’t have to be. For Stroke Month, learn how you can treat and prevent stroke with tools from the CDC.

Preventing Strokes

 

On average, 1 American dies from a stroke every 4 minutes. But there is good news; up to 80% of strokes are preventable. Take action to lower your risk for stroke with these resources from Million Hearts.

Lower Stroke Risk

 

Can you spot the signs and symptoms of a stroke? Knowing how to spot a stroke and respond quickly could potentially save a life. Put your stroke knowledge to the test with this quiz.

Stroke Signs Symptoms

 

Time lost is brain lost. Every minute counts! If you or someone you know shows symptoms of a stroke, call 911 right away.

Act FAST to Spot a Stroke

 

From the first symptoms of stroke to recovery at home, here’s how the CDC Coverdell Program connects healthcare professionals across the system of care to save lives and improve care.

Stroke Awareness Month

 

High blood pressure can increase your risk for stroke. This Stroke Month, make blood pressure control your goal with tips from Million Hearts.

Lowering Your Blood Pressure

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