Health in the News: Cardiac Arrest

October 18th, 2017

Heart wearing a stethoscopeIn the span of a week, comedian Ralphie May, musician Tom Petty and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner all passed away from cardiac arrest.

What is Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not have diagnosed heart disease.

Cardiac arrest is caused when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. In cardiac arrest, death results when the heart suddenly stops working properly. This may be caused by abnormal or irregular heart rhythms (called arrhythmias). A common arrhythmia in cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation. This is when the heart’s lower chambers suddenly start beating chaotically and don’t pump blood. Death occurs within minutes after the heart stops.

Unlike other muscles in your body which rely on nerve connections to receive the electrical stimulation they need to function, your heart has its own electrical stimulator—a specialized group of cells called the sinus node, located in the upper right chamber of your heart. The sinus node generates electrical impulses that flow in an orderly manner through your heart to synchronize the heart rate and coordinate the pumping of blood from your heart to the rest of your body. If something goes wrong with the sinus node or the flow of electrical impulses through your heart, an arrhythmia can result, causing your heart to beat too fast, too slow or in an irregular fashion. Often these interruptions are momentary and harmless. But some types of arrhythmia can be serious and lead to a sudden stop in heart function (cardiac arrest).    

Sudden cardiac arrest symptoms are immediate and drastic. They can include:

  • Blackouts
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of consciousness
  • No breathing
  • No pulse
  • Sudden collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Researchers have found that about half the time people who suffered cardiac arrest did experience early warning signs such as intermittent chest pain and pressure, shortness of breath, palpitations, or ongoing flu-like symptoms such as nausea and abdominal and back pain, but most did not seek out treatment.

Heart Disease Prevention

A great way to prevent cardiac arrest is to prevent heart disease in general. Some tips to preventing heart disease are:

  1. Don’t smoke or use tobacco: Smoking or using tobacco of any kind is one of the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to the narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke replaces some of the oxygen in your blood. This increases your blood pressure and heart rate by forcing your heart to work harder to supply enough oxygen.
  2. Exercise for about 30 minutes most days of the week: Physical activity can help control your weight and reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
  3. Eat a heart healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help protect your heart.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease.
  5. Get enough quality sleep: People who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, and depression. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
  6. Manage stress
  7. Get regular health screenings

Cardiac arrest is fatal about 90 percent of the time, which is why it is so important to prevent heart disease from the start!

What IAA has to Say

Cardiac arrest is very serious, which is why Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be heart healthy. Take steps to prevent heart disease now, so you don’t have any heart related health problems later. IAA only wants the best for you and your heart!

Interested in reading more on heart health? Click here and here!

New Blood Sugar Monitor Does Not Require Finger Pricks

October 11th, 2017

Glucose meter and suppliesOn Wednesday, September 27th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new glucose monitoring device that does not need finger pricks.

Blood Sugar Monitoring Without the Finger Pricks

Federal regulators have approved the first continuous blood sugar monitor for diabetics that doesn’t need backup finger prick tests. Current models require users to test a drop of blood twice daily to calibrate or adjust the monitor.

The new system uses a sensor attached to the upper arm. Patients wave a reader device over it to see the current blood sugar levels and changes over the past eight hours.

Most of the 30 million Americans with diabetes use standard glucose meters, which require multiple finger pricks each day and only show current blood sugar levels.

The device created by Abbot is called the FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System and should be available within months.

Types of Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose).

If you have diabetes, no matter what type, it means you have too much glucose in your blood. Too much glucose could lead to serious health problems.

Chronic diabetes conditions include:

  1. Type 1 diabetes: This type is an autoimmune condition. It’s caused by the body attacking its own pancreas with antibodies. In people with type 1 diabetes, the damaged pancreas does not make insulin.
  2. Type 2 diabetes: This type accounts for 95 percent of diabetes cases in adults. Some 26 million American adults have been diagnosed with the disease.  With type 2 diabetes the pancreas usually produces some insulin. But either the amount produced is not enough for the body’s needs or the body’s cells are resistant to it.

Potentially reversible diabetes conditions include:

  1. Pre-diabetes: When your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
  2. Gestational diabetes: Occurs during pregnancy, but may resolve after the baby is delivered. According to the National Institutes of Health, the reported rate of gestational diabetes is between two percent and 10 percent of pregnancies.

Since the cells can’t take in the glucose, it builds up in your blood. High levels of blood glucose can damage the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys, heart, eyes, or nervous system. That’s why diabetes, especially left untreated, can eventually cause heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and nerve damage to nerves in the feet.

What IAA has to Say

No diabetic likes to have to prick their finger throughout the day. That is why Insurance Administrator of America is glad to share the news about this new monitor. Just think of IAA as your third party health information connection.

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Bad Flu Season for Australia Could Mean Bad Flu Season for U.S.

October 4th, 2017

Flu SignA bad flu season in Australia is serving as a warning sign for the United States.

Flu Hits Australia

There has been two and a half times more flu cases reported to Australia’s National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System this year, compared with the same period last year, says Australia’s Department of Health.  

Most cases have been in people over the age of 80 and in between the ages of five and 9. They have largely involved a strain of influenza virus known as H3N2, which reportedly can cause more severe issues for older people and those with weakened immune systems.

The outbreak in Australia has health officials in America watching for a particularly bad flu season. In general, the Northern hemisphere gets in their flu season what the Southern hemisphere had immediately preceding.

Each year, a flu vaccine is made for the Southern hemisphere and for the Northern hemisphere from combinations of A and B strains. Committees of scientists consider which viruses are making people sick, where those viruses are spreading and how well the previous season’s vaccine protected against them. Sometimes, each hemisphere’s formulation is different, but sometimes they are identical.

Be Prepared

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October.

Some other preventative steps are:

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when your sneeze or cough
  • If you are sick with flu symptoms, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand rub.

The flu spreads from person to person in droplets that fly out when you cough or sneeze. These tiny drops from a sick person move through the air and land on the mouths or noses of others nearby. Germs are also passed along when you touch mucus droplets from someone else on a surface like a desk and then touch your own eyes, mouth or nose before you get a chance to wash your hands.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to prepare for flu season! Make sure to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing. Don’t let flu season get your business down! IAA is here to remind you, that you can help prevent flu viruses from spreading.

Interested in reading more on this topic? Click here and here!

Lady Gaga Reveals Fibromyalgia Diagnosis

September 27th, 2017

Purple Fibromyalgia RibbonLady Gaga opened up on Twitter September 12th, revealing that she suffers from fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Lady Gaga is one of 5 million Americans 18 years of age or older who suffer from fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue. People with fibromyalgia have pain and tenderness throughout the body. Symptoms of fibromyalgia can include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Digestive problems, such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and even irritable bowel syndrome
  • Headaches
  • Morning stiffness
  • Pain in the face or jaw, including disorders of the jaw
  • Problems with thinking (sometimes called fibro fog)
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Trouble sleeping

Researchers believe repeated nerve stimulation causes the brain of people with fibromyalgia to change. This change involves an abnormal increase in levels of certain chemicals in the brain that signal pain (neurotransmitters). In addition, the brain’s pain receptors seem to develop a sort of memory of the pain and become more sensitive, meaning they overreact to pain signals.

Risk Factors

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Fibromyalgia has been linked to:

  • Age: Fibromyalgia can affect people of all ages, including children. However, most people are diagnosed during middle age.
  • Certain diseases: Such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and spinal arthritis.
  • Genetics: Because fibromyalgia tends to run in families, there may be certain genetic mutations that may make you more susceptible to developing the disorder.
  • Illness
  • Repetitive injuries
  • Stressful or traumatic events

Some scientists think that a gene or genes might be involved in fibromyalgia. The genes could make a person react strongly to things that other people would not find painful.

There are many things people with fibromyalgia can do to feel better:

  • Eating well
  • Exercising
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Making work changes if necessary

Between 80 and 90 percent of people diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women.

What IAA has to Say

When a celebrity speaks out on their personal diagnosis and/or disorder, it allows for a better understanding of certain health conditions. Insurance Administrator of America wants you to have this information on certain diseases and conditions through these blog posts. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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September 11th Dust Particles Tied to Heart Risk in Children

September 20th, 2017

Heart wearing a stethoscopeA new study suggests that exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) after the 9/11 attacks could be tied to abnormal cholesterol levels in teens and young adults who were children during that time. High cholesterol can be a risk factor for heart disease.

Children of 9/11

On 9/11, when two hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center Towers, a massive cloud of dust swept the New York City skyline. This cloud, caused by the twin towers collapse and the digging in ground zero, carried chemicals and carcinogens such as PFASs, a class of chemicals used to make products stain resistant, nonstick or waterproof.  Many dust particles brought these chemicals into NYC homes and intimate spaces.

A study was published on Friday, September 8th in the journal Environment International. The study showed a correlation between young adults’ high cholesterol levels and their exposure to these chemicals after the 9/11 attacks.

The new study involved 123 New Yorkers born between September 11th, 1993 and September 10th, 2001, who are enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry and 185 New Yorkers in that age group who were not eligible to enroll in the registry. Researchers collected and analyzed blood samples from all of the study participants, measuring their cholesterol levels, insulin resistance and triglycerides, along with other health factors. The researchers also measured each participants PFAS exposure.

The study showed that every threefold increase in blood PFAS levels was tied to an average of nine to 15 percent increase in blood fats, including LDL cholesterol and triglycerides

The study was conducted by researchers at New York University Langone Health and NYU School of Medicine.  

Helping Young Adults’ Hearts

For those teens and young adults who are dealing with this issue, they need to remember to keep their heart healthy. Some tips to keeping “heart healthy” are:

  • Don’t smoke, it can damage the heart and blood vessels
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods and avoid foods high in unhealthy fats, such as saturated fats and trans-fats
  • Remember that your heart is a muscle. If you want it to be strong, you need to exercise it. You do this by being active. Try to be active every day for at least 30 minutes.
  • Try to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day

Getting your heart in the best shape it can be is a good start to a healthy life!

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be aware of what is going on in the world of health. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Like this blog post? Let IAA know by going to our Facebook page and clicking the Like button.