Harvard researchers warn that 30 million Americans are taking aspirin for prevention of heart disease when they could be putting themselves at risk for other serious diseases.
They estimate that 1/5 of these individuals took aspirin on their own without a doctor’s order.
Although aspirin use is recommended for secondary prevention of future heart attacks and ischemic stroke in those at risk of having a future episode, primary prevention (in those who have never had an attack) is still debated.
One study last year found minimal benefit if at all for primary prevention in low risk individuals. Many experts say the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, heart disease, hemorrhagic stroke and kidney disease outweigh the benefits.
The latest guidelines from the American College of Cardiology states the following in terms of aspirin for prevention of heart disease:
A report published in the American Heart Association’s Heart and Stroke Statistics annual report cited 48% of US adults have some type of cardiovascular disease.
The uptick could be due to rising obesity, and lowering thresholds for diagnosing guidelines such as high blood pressure (now considered high if over 130/80).
Although smoking rates have declined over the years, many still use tobacco and recent research has found E-cigs to increase risk of heart attack and stroke by 70%.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when an area of the brain does not get the proper oxygen and blood flow it needs. There are two major types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic.
Ischemic strokes are more common than the latter and occur when a clot prevents blood flow to part of the brain. 80% of all strokes fall under ischemic. It is likened to a heart attack, except the brain tissue is being deprived of blood and nutrients. Plaques commonly arise from arteriosclerosis that break off travel to the smaller vessels of the brain.
Hemorrhagic strokes are less common and occur when there is a bleed of one of the brain vessels. The bleed prevents blood flow into the brain since it is seeping outside the brain tissue, causing damage to nearby cells. The bleeds could occur from high blood pressure or aneurysms that rupture.
What are the signs of a stroke?
Since a clot or bleed usually affect one area of the brain, we see symptoms on one side of the body, many times its contralateral (opposite) side. We can also see central effects. The symptoms of stroke include the following:
How are strokes treated?
If the stroke was caused by a clot (ischemic) immediate treatment includes dissolving/removing the clot. Aspirin is used initially and if within the proper time frame, tissue plasminogen activator (TPA). These clots can also be surgically removed and arteries widened to bring blood flow to the brain.
With a hemorrhagic stroke, we need to stop the bleeding and improve flow to the brain. Controlling the bleed, bypassing the vessel, “clogging” the aneurysm with techniques such as “coiling” (endovascular embolization) are sometimes utilized.
Time is of the essence, so it's crucial to identify the warning signs and call 911 immediately. The American Stroke Association uses the acronym “FAST” (Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 911). The sooner a stroke victim receives medical attention the better the prognosis.
The following put us at risk of having a stroke.
How do we prevent strokes?
Avoid the following:
Firstly, we must know our risk factors. These include:
and even short stature has been cited as a potential risk factor.
As you can see, many of us can be at risk for heart disease. Therefore, secondly, we should be evaluated with an EKG, echocardiogram and any other exams our medical provider and/or cardiologist deem necessary.
In 2017, a 25-year-old mother of two died after over consuming protein supplements in preparation for a bodybuilding competition, and her mother is speaking out on the potential dangers that many athletes face.
Meegan Hefford was found unconscious in her West Australia apartment and was declared brain-dead, passing two days later.
Unbeknownst to her, she suffered from Urea Cycle Disorder (UCD), such that when she consumed protein shakes and supplements she overproduced a toxic byproduct.
People with Urea Cycle Disorder (UCD) have a mutation that causes them to lack an enzyme that helps break down ammonia. The urea cycle is responsible for removing ammonia from the bloodstream. Ammonia is made by cells, when they breakdown the nitrogen in proteins. Ammonia needs to be eliminated, and through this cycle turns in to urea which can be excreted in the urine. If a step is missing, ammonia and nitrogen products build up causing hyperammonemia. This can cause liver and brain damage and eventually death.
If one suffers from hyperammonemia, a result of UCD, the following symptoms may manifest:
UCD cases are rare with 1 UCD patient per 35,000 births. According to the National Urea Cycle Disorders Foundation, “Because many cases of urea cycle disorders remain undiagnosed and/or infants born with the disorders die without a definitive diagnosis, the exact incidence of these cases is unknown and underestimated. It is believed that up to 20% of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) cases may be attributed to an undiagnosed inborn error of metabolism such a urea cycle disorder. Some children with autism spectrum and behavioral disorders may have undiagnosed urea cycle disorders.” Treatment includes stopping the excess protein/nitrogen intake, fluids, medications, dialysis and at times, liver transplantation.
No. But what we need to remember is if we are increasing our protein, and many times accurately, for bodybuilding, we need to realize that our bodies, including our kidneys, may not be on the same page. When this happens, protein supplements can be dangerous so competitive athletes, or others using protein supplements, should be supervised by their health provider.
Multiple states are reporting an alarming increase in people overdosing on…..bug spray.
Bug spray, such as RAID contain pyrethroids, man-made versions of pyrethrin, a compound made by flowers to repel insects. The compound acts as a neurotoxin, overly exciting the nervous system leading to paralysis and death of the critter that gets exposed.
But humans are spraying the insecticide on their marijuana, tobacco, or spice before smoking it, in an attempt to increase the high. These bug spray-laced drugs, called KD, could cause serious illness.
In December, a Tennessee man went on a violent bender and was arrested after he smoked a mixture of methamphetamine and bug spray to make “wasp“.
“Hot Shots” are even crazier. The DenverChannel.com reports one takes a screen, sprays bug spray on it, hooks up a battery charger to heat it, and once the solution crystallizes, melts it and injects the liquid into their veins.
Health officials are warning using any of the above drug mixtures can produce various symptoms including:
Because of the ubiquity of bug spray, anyone, including a child, can become exposed to toxic doses using it by itself or mixing it with other chemicals and drugs.
As a kid we used to collect bugs and play with them. Now kids are getting high on bug spray. What could possibly be next……
As August approaches, the CDC is asking health care professionals to be on the lookout and report any suspected cases of AFM (Acute Flaccid Myelitis), a paralyzing illness resembling polio, as cases may peak during this time.
Last year a total of 233 cases were confirmed in 41 states. This year 11 have been reported and an additional 57 cases are being investigated. Cases have been reported in California, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and West Virginia this year.
IMAGE ABOVE FROM CDC
Last year, California, Colorado and Texas appeared to be the worst hit with 15, 16 and 31 cases respectively. Experts are urging states to report any cases of suspected AFM as the above map could be an under-representation of true numbers.
On their website, the CDC reports the following:
The “48 states” refers to cases since 2014. 90% of the cases occurred in children under the age of 4.
The age range of children affected appear to be 3-14. A 6-year-old boy in Washington State died in 2016 and was the first death to be linked to this mysterious illness. His parents reported he had felt ill, became dizzy and within hours suffered swelling in the brain and paralysis. Despite medical efforts, he passed.
In 2018 parents of two children who died from AFM accused the CDC of hiding their deaths.
Although the exact cause of AFM is unknown, health experts are considering a variety of possibilities. They have actually been investigating this since 2014 when reports of AFM began to surface across the United States.
AFM stands for Acute Flaccid Myelitis. It’s a condition that occurs suddenly, causing inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Although limb weakness is the primary symptom, patients could also exhibit slurred speech, facial drooping, and in serious cases inability to breath due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Mild cases appear to resolve but serious cases can cause residual paralysis or death. Children appear to be more affected than adults.
Although health officials do not know for certain, due to its rapid onset, a pathogen such as a virus seems highly likely. With the 2013-2014 outbreak, some of the cases tested positive for enterovirus (EV-D68), but it is not conclusive whether this was the exact cause or just coincidentally found in the patients tested.
Some postulate a combination of viruses may be a factor or an autoimmune disease. Although Guillain-Barre syndrome causes acute limb weakness and paralysis when the immune system begins attacking the nervous system, the report that many individuals feel feverish or ill prior, seem to point to a pathogen as the primary cause although the latter is not being ruled out. Virus families such as enterovirus (including polio and nonpolio enterovirus), adenovirus (causing respiratory and GI illness) cocksackieviruses and flaviviruses (including West Nile) have been suspected.
Per the CDC, acute flaccid myelitis is rare (less than 1 in a million cases) however currently they report 570 cases have been confirmed since the outbreak began in August 2014.
Medical professionals look at a variety of factors.
Medical professionals look at a variety of factors.
History: how the paralysis/loss of muscle tone began and which limbs did it affect first
Laboratory tests and CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) testing: to look for signs of infection
MRI of the brain: which may show gray matter involvement in a case of AFM.
There is no standard treatment that has been proven effective, however depending on the severity of the symptoms, health professionals can consider a variety of options including steroids, IVIG, interferon, antivirals and supportive measures. Some physicians are using “nerve transfers”, similar to a transplant, to help children regain control of their limbs.
No. Until they can identify the exact cause, or causes, health officials cannot create a vaccine.
If we assume it’s a pathogen causing the illness, avoiding contact with sick individuals, being up-to-date on one’s vaccines and good hand-washing are imperative. Although we do not know if AFM is caused by a mosquito-born illness, avoiding mosquitoes would be wise as well. More therefore needs to be researched to determine why and how those individuals with AFM were infected.
As multiple earthquakes and aftershocks rattle the Southwestern US, seismologists predict more to come and people fear the “big one” could follow.
Here’s how to prepare:
Assuming cell phones will not work in the event of a natural disaster, map out with family and friends where possible meeting sites will be.
Know your emergency exits and plan what to do in case of an earthquake/fire (explained below).
Have food, water and supplies stored in plastic garbage bags that can be easily grabbed and taken with you in case of an emergency.
Have an “emergency kit” with phone numbers, medications, money and other important documents in water-proof/fire-proof casing.
Include tools, whistles, flash lights and batteries in your emergency kit as well.
Loose foundations, awnings, book shelves, chandeliers and knickknacks to name a few could cause serious injury in the event of an earthquake. Anchor down any loose fixtures. Family members should know how to shut off gas/electric/water supplies and appliances should have flexible, break away connections. Avoid hanging anything heavy such as pictures or chandeliers above the bed.
Consult professionals if unsure if your house is able to withstand shifts in its foundation.
If indoors, take cover under a table, desk, or doorway. Be careful of swinging doors, and keep hands and arms close to your body, covering your head if possible.
Avoid running outside during an earthquake. Find a room in the house with few wall/ceiling hangings and stay in the center to avoid windows, bookshelves or other furniture shifting and falling onto you.
If you’re in bed, and no time to run to a safe room, you can cover your head with a pillow.
If you are outside when the shaking starts, find an open area and drop to the ground, staying low. Avoid power lines, trees, overpasses and buildings.
If in a vehicle when the shaking starts, pull over to a safe open area. Again avoid power lines, trees, buildings and overpasses.
Exit any damaged buildings, move away from them and go to an open area, and refrain from going into another building that may appear damaged.
If you live in an area near water, go to higher land in case a tsunami follows.
If trapped inside, use a whistle or nearby object to alert first responders of where you may be.
For more information on earthquake preparedness, visit here.
The leading cause of death in children are “unintentional injuries” including drownings. According to the CDC, 20% of drowning victims are under the age of 14. And non-fatal drowning victims could sustain brain damage and long term disability.
Pools, bathtubs and any body of water pose risks, however this time of year is especially dangerous, because activities surrounding pools, such as BBQs and alcohol use, become distractions to the adults supervising.
When it comes to drowning prevention, the following is necessary:
Fence height should be at least 4-5 feet high and the entry gate should self-close and self-latch.
Even if your pool has a fence, be aware that the house who’s hosting the BBQ, play date, or sleep-over may not.
And any kiddy pools or ice buckets used for drinks should be dumped out after use and flipped over so they do not become a future threat.
The farther you are away from the child you’re supervising, the longer it takes to rescue. With distance between you and the victim, other children may swim in your path and you may lose sight of where the victim submerged. And seconds count. A panicked child under water may also aspirate water into the lungs becoming hypoxic quicker. Moreover they could be at risk of “secondary drowning” in which water in the larynx triggers a spasm closing up the airway, or water falling into the lungs causes pulmonary edema and respiratory failure days after the water incident.
Put the phones away. Adults supervising kids in a pool should not be answering a phone call or on social media. Moreover, adults should not be drinking alcohol while supervising a child. Reaction time is key, and a drunk adult could become a drowning victim as well.
Many drownings occur while others are feet away from the victim. Why? Because a submerged victim makes little sound and nearby splashing visually and auditorily obscures the victim’s splashes.
Most CPR classes teach adult, child, and infant CPR. Having this knowledge and becoming certified could save a life one day.
If swimming in open waters, know the weather and sea conditions prior to jumping in. Life jackets/vests, appropriate for the child’s size, should be worn, even if the child is out of the water, such as in a boat.
Dry Drowning occurs when water touches the first pass of the respiratory tree, one’s vocal cords, larynx. When water touches this area a reflex is triggered, causing a spasm (laryngospasm) such that the vocal cords constrict and close up the airway. It’s a defense mechanism designed to prevent water from falling into the lungs. However, laryngospasm causes immediate hypoxia, lack of oxygen, and if not reversed, the victim will die. In dry drowning, water never officially reaches the lungs!
In Secondary Drowning, water gets inhaled and sits in the respiratory tree and if uncleared through coughing, will sit and prevent proper oxygenation. Moreover the water will irritate the lung linings causing more fluid and inflammation, resulting in pulmonary edema. This could occur hours to days after the water activity.
According to Florida Hospital Tampa pediatrician, Dr. James Orlowski, these events are very rare, comprising only 1-2% of drowning incidents.
The symptoms for both “Dry” and “Secondary Drowning” are similar in which the victim could have any of the following:
Horse play in water should be avoided. This includes bathtubs, plastic pools, hot tubs, pools, lakes, ocean, etc.
Never swim alone.
Swim in areas staffed with lifeguards and/or appropriate supervision.
If water does get inhaled, watch the child or adult to look for any of the above symptoms. If concerned, seek medical help immediately.
Have a safe and healthy summer!
A Hepatitis A outbreak has now been declared in Clark County Nevada.
According to the Southern Nevada Health District, 37 cases have been reported since the start of this year.
Drugs and homelessness have contributed to the outbreak but it can be spread by eating contaminated food.
Per the CDC, 20,133 cases, with 11,595 hospitalizations have been reported in multiple states including Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida and Arizona to name a few. According to the CDC, California and Utah have declared their outbreaks’ over. 191 deaths have been reported since the outbreak began in 216.
Hepatitis A is a disease that affects the liver. Its caused by a virus (Hepatitis A virus) that is most commonly ingested. Poor hand washing and/or contaminated food are likely culprits. It’s transmitted by the fecal-oral route, where food or drink contaminated by fecal matter enters another person’s GI tract. Sexual transmission of Hepatitis A has been reported during activities involving oral-anal sex.
Hepatitis A can live outside the body for months, so unclean dining areas can be contaminated and transfer to food.
Those who are immunosuppressed run the risk of dying from the infection.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include:
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Most hepatitis A infections resolve on their own.
We usually recommend rest, fluids, and offer medications to help with nausea and vomiting.
For liver injury we avoid medications and alcohol that can worsen liver damage. The liver will usually recover within months after hepatitis A infection.
There are vaccines for Hepatitis A included in the childhood vaccination schedule. Those older who weren’t vaccinated as a child can get the vaccine from their local provider or health department. Many states require all health care and food workers to be vaccinated.
The best form of prevention however is good hand washing, dining area hygiene, and cooking food thoroughly.
For years we’ve been hearing stories of children being diagnosed with brain tumors or liver disorders based on followers viewing their picture on social media and alerting parents to suspicious findings. Now a study, published in PLOS One, finds 21 different medical conditions to be revealed based on the vocabulary people use when posting on their timeline.
Penn State and Stony Brook medical researchers reviewed thousands of Facebook status updates and found certain keywords surface more often with those having specific conditions.
For Diabetes, for examples, key words included: pray, family, blessed, very, thank, thankful, doctor, blood, hospital
For Sexually Transmitted Illnesses, there were many expletives as well as the terms cry, scream, away, guess, wow and babe
For Drug Abuse, there were many expletives as well as well as the terms nobody, everybody, stop, call, text and bored
For High Blood Pressure, terms that commonly surfaced included doctor, blood, hospital, mother, good, peace, rip.
The concept of using a “digital language” to help identify certain risk factors is nothing new when it comes to mental illness but is virgin territory when we discuss endocrinology conditions such as diabetes.
More research obviously needs to be done, however, this study demonstrates that not only can our physical actions tune a medical provider into our pathology but so can our social media behavior.
The National Weather Service has issued “excessive heat warnings” for many parts of the Southwest United States. It’s the first of the season for many states, so don’t be unprepared.
This occurs “within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions”. This means that the heat index (air temperature and humidity) will be greater than 105 degrees for more than three hours a day for at least two days in a row and the night-time temperatures will not drop below 75 degrees. Although many of us may live in areas where this occurs each year, the onset can be one of the most dangerous times. Symptoms such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke must be identified.
At first when one feels symptoms, it may come in the form of heat cramps. Heat cramps are painful spasms that occur in the muscles of the arms and legs and even abdomen. We believe that when one loses fluids and salts from excessive sweating, cramps ensue. Its important in these cases to get the person out of the heat, hydrate them with sips of fluid and electrolytes and massage the body parts affected.
If one does not leave the heat and come indoors, the next risky event that can occur is heat exhaustion. This worsens as the victim sweats profusely becoming more and more dehydrated. They could also have cramps but nausea may ensue, they may look pale and clammy and their heart rate will increase to try to compensate for the lost fluid. These individuals may become dizzy, weak and even faint. Immediately bring the person indoors, lie them down, elevate the feet, give sips of fluid, cool down the body applying cool and wet cloths to the underarms and body, and contact medical authorities if symptoms continue or worsen.
Heat stroke will occur if a vulnerable person does not get out of the heat in time. It is a medical emergency and can be fatal. If an individual has heat stroke 9-1-1 must be called immediately. Bring the victim indoors away from sunlight, lie them down, remove unnecessary clothing, cool their body with cold compresses and watch for signs of rapidly progressive heat stroke in which they have difficulty breathing, seize or lose consciousness. If they are unconscious you cannot give them fluids. Only if they are alert, awake and able to swallow will you be able to give fluids. Do not give medications to reduce the fever such as aspirin or acetaminophen since their body may not be able to metabolize them properly and this could make matters worse.
Young children and elderly individuals may have issues adjusting to the outside environment and may be more prone to dehydration. Those with medical conditions such as heart, lung, thyroid disease can be at risk as well. If you’ve ever suffered from heat stroke you can be vulnerable again. And many medications could make you susceptible such as diuretics, vasodilators and beta-blockers for blood pressure and antidepressants. The biggest risk comes when we are unprepared. Having an unusual cool week prior to a heat warning could preclude many from taking proper precautions. Staying indoors, checking air conditioning and fan devices to make sure they work properly, wearing cooler clothing is just the beginning. Stocking up and planning to hydrate frequently is paramount because when death occurs to excessive heat, dehydration is the main culprit.
Bring your pets in doors, and watch your kids, friends and family members frequently. If they are beginning to sucumb to the heat, they may be quiet and not be able to voice it.
Avoid drinking alcohol in the heat. It can dehydrate you more and worsen the situation.
Avoid excessive exercise when outdoors and make sure to make use of shady areas.
The summer and early fall offer exciting and fun ways to enjoy nature. Don’t let the heat get to you. Remember….if you can’t take the heat, get out of the…..well heat…….
The latest potentially deadly challenge sweeping social media is the “Vacuum” or “Trash Bag” Challenge.
In this feat, one climbs into a garbage bag, while a friend or parent sucks air out of the plastic bag until the inmate topples over.
Bringing people to the point of falling (or if putting the bag over their face) of asphyxiation can cause a plethora of health issues including fractures, respiratory failure, stroke and death.
And even if parents appear to be supervising or performing the challenge and the child comes out unscathed, dangers lurk as the child could try to reproduce the challenge with their friends, this time putting the bag over one’s head.
This Spring another stupid challenge swept social media called the “Shell On” challenge in which teens Snapchat videos of themselves eating through fruit skin, cardboard boxes and plastic bags containing their food.
Although this appears to not be as dangerous as the Tide Pod or Boiling Water Challenge, it can cause choking and asphyxiation.
Last year we learned of the “Boiling Water Challenge” in which kids drink boiling water from a straw or have it poured all over their body. Then they topped it off with a more dangerous challenge, the “Fire Challenge.”
The Fire Challenge is executed by pouring rubbing alcohol on one’s body and then setting oneself on fire. A video records the victim running into a tub or shower to wash it off, and this trend has gone viral.
Unfortunately it’s one of the most dangerous. A 12 year-old girl from Detroit who participated in this challenge is undergoing multiple surgeries to repair burns afflicting close to 50% of her body.
Multiple cases of the “Fire Challenge” have been reported over the years, including a 12 year-old boy from Georgia.
One would think children, especially teens, innately know that fire is dangerous but maybe the younger generation has been so protected that they haven’t experienced the basic concepts of danger and inadvertently underestimate its force.
Challenges that involve dangerous stunts have been around for some time. The Choking Challenge induced children to suffocate themselves for the high of feeling asphyxiated. The Tide Pod Challenge tempted kids to put colorful cleaning packets in their mouths, hoping they wouldn’t burst.
The Cinnamon Challenge sparked thousands to inhale the common kitchen spice and cough till they puked. Then the Condom Challenge offered two options where one dropped a condom filled with water on a friends face, or snorted one through the nose.
We adults can’t for the life of us figure out what the reward is in performing these challenges, but presume its fame and awe among friends and social media followers. But these challenges prove dangerous and in some cases deadly. Unfortunately the YouTube Clips never show the after effects of these pranks…maybe they should.