The two numbers in a blood-pressure reading are one indication of your health.
Without a constant flow of blood, the organs that keep us alive wouldn’t get the oxygen they need. When the blood doesn’t flow as freely as it should, the result is high blood pressure (hypertension).
The Upper and the Lower
A blood pressure reading is composed of two numbers set up as a ratio and measured in millimeters (mm) of mercury. The upper number is called the systolic and measures the pressure of blood against the walls of your arteries as the heart beats. The lower number is the diastolic and it represents the pressure in your arteries when the heart is at rest, between the beats that pump blood.
What the Numbers Mean
The American Heart Association has guidelines for understanding what your blood pressure numbers mean:
Normal: Upper (systolic) less than 120 and lower (diastolic) less than 80
Prehypertension: (a condition that increases the risk of hypertension) Upper less than 139 and lower less than 90
Hypertension: Upper 140 or more and lower 90 or more
Emergency: A systolic reading of 180 or higher or a diastolic of 110 or higher is the sign of a medical problem that requires immediate treatment
Some Other Things to Consider
Blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day. After one high reading a doctor might take several more.
With an initial high reading, your doctor might suggest you monitor your blood pressure at home several times a day and record the results.
African Americans are more likely to develop high blood pressure, and at a younger age, than members of other races and ethnic groups, so monitoring blood pressure should be a priority.
Why the Concern?
High blood pressure is a risk factor for:
Chronic heart disease
The Cardiac Care team at HCA East Florida knows the importance of keeping an eye on blood pressure. We offer a video explaining what to do if you’re diagnosed with hypertension. Our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-866-442-2362 can answer questions about high blood pressure or give you a physician referral.
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Posted in Main
Tagged blood pressure, cardiac disease, diastolic, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, HCA East Florida, heart health, hypertension, monitor, reading, strokes, systolic
Learn more about this bone disease and if you’re at risk for it.
A natural process in our bodies could be a health threat. At around 30 years old, our bones stop producing new tissue. The bones then slowly lose mass, a condition known as osteoporosis. This condition makes bones fragile and more apt to break.
A “Silent” Condition
May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month, so we're sharing information about the warning signs of this bone disease. Unfortunately, osteoporosis is sometimes called a silent condition because we normally don’t check our bone density until we suffer a fracture. The National Institutes of Health say that fractures in these bones can be signs of the disease:
A spinal fracture may occur without someone even knowing it. Common signs of one or more spinal fractures related to osteoporosis include:
A loss in height of one inch or more
A curved spine
Instead of waiting for a fracture to signal you may have osteoporosis, learn if you’re at risk for developing the disease and then take steps to prevent it. Risk factors include:
Gender – women are at higher risk than men, especially after menopause
Age – the odds increase as we age
Diet – a lifelong deficiency in calcium can play a role, and too little vitamin D is also unhealthy
Exercise – not enough can weaken bones
Smoking – tobacco makes it harder for the body to absorb calcium
Genetics – a family history of osteoporosis increases your chance of developing it
Ethnicity – Caucasian and Asian women have higher incidences of the disease than people from other ethnic and racial groups
Previous fractures – experiencing one broken bone past the age of 50 increases the chance of another
Increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake, exercising, and lowering the risk of falls that could lead to fractures are the basic prevention steps for osteoporosis. At HCA East Florida, women curious about their bone density mass can contact our Women’s Health Services to arrange a screening. Anyone looking for more information or a physician referral can call our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-866-442-2362.
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Posted in Main
Tagged bone density, bones, calcium, exercise, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, fracture, HCA East Florida, hip, menopause, osteoporosis, risk factors, signs, spine, women, wrist
Most of us want to feelâ€”and lookâ€”younger; here are some ways do to it.
Looking and feeling young may be based partially on genetics, but there’s no question thatÂ women sometimes make choices that seem to speed up the aging process, making them look or feel older than their years. Here are some suggestions from the National Institute of Health for how to fight the aging battle.
Staying physically active is a great way to keep feeling young. Some simple tips for staying active include:
- Doing outside chores, such as raking or weeding
- Walking whenever possible
- Trying yoga or tai chi
- Organizing activities with friends, so you get the added health benefits of social interaction
The right diet helps you achieve the right weight for your age and height, which can keep your energy up. Proper nutrition also helps hold off diseases sometimes associated with old age, such as bone loss or heart disease. To eat better, try:
- Reducing salt intake
- Eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods
- Choosing low- or non-fat varieties of dairy products
- Reducing intake of saturated fats
As people age they sometimes find it tough to get enough sleep to ensure top health and youthful vitality. To make sure you get enough sleep, try:
- Creating a routine that you follow every night before you go to bed
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine consumption close to bedtime
- Following a regular time schedule for going to bed and waking
We get plenty of sun here in Florida, and for some, it’s too much. Take these steps to reduce your exposure:
- Wear a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher
- Wear protective clothing (hat, sunglasses, long sleeves)
- Avoid the sun from 10 am to 4 pm
Your good health and a youthful feeling go hand in hand. At HCA East Florida, weâ€™re ready to give South Florida women whatever tools they need to achieve both. Find out more about the Women’s Health services offered at your local HCA East Florida hospital. If you have a health question or want a referral to a doctor, call our Consult-A-NurseÂ®Â serviceÂ at 1-866-442-2362.
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Posted in Health for Women
Tagged diet, exercise, feeling young, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, fruits, HCA East Florida, healthy, sleep, stretches, sun exposure, vegetables, women
Regular examination of your skin can catch cancer in its early stages.
One of the great things about Florida is the sunny weather, but as most folks know, too much sun can be dangerous. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the sun’s ultraviolet rays are the main cause of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month–a good time to check yourself for any warning signs of the disease.
While a doctor can give you the most thorough skin exam, the American Cancer Society has these guidelines for doing your own exam at home:
Check your skin once a month.
Use full-length and hand mirrors to help you see all parts of your body.
On the first exam, note the location of moles and freckles, so you can notice any changes in subsequent exams.
What to Look For
For basal and squamous cell cancer, some of the things to look for include:
Flat, pale areas or small, raised, pink or red, translucent areas that may bleed after a minor injury
Crusted or oozing areas
Growing lumps, often with a rough or crusted surface
Slow-growing, flat reddish patches
Sores, lumps, patches, or growths that don’t go away after several weeks.
For melanoma, look for:
A new spot on the skin or a spot that changes in size, shape, or color
A spot that looks different from other spots on your body
One half of a mole or birthmark that doesn’t match the other
A spot with irregular, ragged, or notched edges
A spot with irregular coloring, rather than having the same color throughout
A spot larger than ¼ inches across, which is about the size of a pencil eraser
A mole that changes in size, shape, or color
Changes in the surface of a mole, including oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a bump
A sore that doesn’t heal.
If you detect any of these signs or are worried about a bump or patch of skin, contact your doctor. If you need a referral, call our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 866-442-2362. And if you're diagnosed with skin cancer, you can get the best cancer care available at several of our area hospitals.
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Tagged basal, detect, exam, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, HCA East Florida, melanoma, moles, prevent, skin cancer, squamous, sun, ultraviolet rays
Rehabilitation of all kinds is vital for stroke victims and OT is part of the picture.
It’s sometimes called a brain attack—the blockage of oxygen to the brain that kills cells and can lead to brain damage, physical disability, or death. Most of us know this sudden, severe, medical condition as a stroke, and according to the National Stroke Foundation, some 133,000 Americans will die from one this year.
Fortunately, hundreds of thousands of others who suffer a stroke will survive, though many face new challenges as they struggle with the aftermath. To recover from a stroke, victims rely on the skills of a number of medical professionals, including occupational therapists.
The Role of the OT
April is Occupational Therapy Month, so it’s a good time to explore how OTs help. According to the American Occupational Therapist Association, OTs usually spend more time with recovering stroke victims than any other medical practitioner. Ideally, Easter Seals says, that work will begin while the patient is still in the hospital. The initial assessment tasks of OT include:
Observing the patient’s ability to carry out daily tasks, such as
Using the toilet
Screening the patient’s memory and cognition
Testing motor skills
Watching the patient’s ability to function in the home environment
Tools for Better Living
With assessments done, the OT begins mapping out specific changes in a patient’s daily routine and environment that will make life easier. These may include:
Exercises designed to improve physical strength and endurance
Physical changes in or the introduction of adaptive equipment to the home or work environment
Introduction of assistive devices to restore a patient’s independence
Mental exercises to strengthen memory and cognition
Activities that help rebuild self confidence
Here to Help
At HCA East Florida, we’re ready to help stroke survivors restore as much of their old lives as possible. To find out which of our hospitals can provide the best rehabilitation services for you or a loved one or to ask a question about stroke, use our free Consult-A-Nurse® service by calling 1-877-442-2362.
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Tagged adaptive equipment, assessment, assistive devices, exercises, Fort Lauderdale, HCA East Florida, memory, mental cognition, motor skills, occupational therapy, physical strength, recovery, rehabilitiation, Stroke
Driving safely requires your full attention, so donâ€™t let yourself get distracted.
We all know about the dangers of driving after drinking alcohol and that wearing seat belts is a great way to stay safe behind the wheel. But have you given much thought to the dangers of driving while distracted? You should, since the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHSTA) says that every year distracted driving leads to accidents that kill an average of 3,000 people and many more suffer injuries.
The Types of Distractions
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a time set aside to educate drivers about the dangers of letting distractions take their attention off the road. The NHSTA breaks the distractions into three main categories:
- Manual â€“ distractions that lead drivers to take their hands off the wheel
- Visual â€“ distractions that take driversâ€™ eyes off the road
- Cognitive â€“ mental activities that divert driversâ€™ attention from their main task: driving safely
Here are some of the specific distractions that can cause an accident:
- Talking on a cell phoneâ€”even while using a headset or another hands-free system
- Talking to people in the car
- Reading maps or any printed material
- Eating or drinking
- Adjusting music devices, such as a CD or MP3 player or a radio
- Watching a video
- Using a GPS system
A Special Danger
In a special category of its own is texting, since it combine all three types of distractions. In the time it takes to send or receive a messageâ€”about 5 secondsâ€”a car going 55 miles per hour covers the distance of a football field. Thatâ€™s a long distance to travel without paying attention to the road.
At HCA East Florida, we know how tempting it can be to take a cell phone call while driving, or eat breakfast on the way to work., but knowing the risks of distracted driving should help you break the habit. Still, if an accident occurs on the road, the trained staff in our Emergency Rooms are there for you. You can always check our website for the wait times at the ERs near you.
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Posted in How to be Healthy
Tagged accidents, cell phone, cognitive, distracted driving, eating, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, HCA East Florida, manual, reading, talking, texting, visual
The typical home has many potential sources for burns, but you can reduce these risks.
Most of the time a home is a safe place, but some items can present hazards that can lead to burns or scalds. The good news is that you can reduce the risk of a burning or scalding accident. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Burn Association.
Hot Water Burns
Water that’s too hot can cause a third-degree burn in just seconds. Reduce that danger by:
Setting your hot-water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit
Checking water temperature of a tub or shower before entering
Putting pans with boiling water on the back burners of your stove
Not flushing a toilet while someone is showering
Keep these tips in mind when cooking:
Don’t use a microwave to warm up a baby bottle; the contents may heat unevenly and lead to scalding.
Lift the cover from a boiling pot away from your face, so you’re not hit with the escaping steam.
Only try to carry pots and pans that you can easily lift, especially when they’re full
Burns from Heat or Electrical Sources
While space heaters and fireplaces might not be a part of life for most of us in Florida, we do face dangers from flames and electrical items. Consider these tips:
Throw out items with frayed or damaged electrical cords.
If you have children, cover unused electrical outlets.
Keep children from touching heaters or getting too close to a fireplace or candle flame.
The chemicals in cleaning products and others common household chemicals can cause burns if they’re not used and stored properly. To reduce the risk of chemical burns, do the following:
Carefully read and follow all instructions for proper use.
Wear gloves and other protecting clothing when using chemicals.
Don’t mix together different cleaning products
By taking precautions, you can reduce the risk of burns in your home. But if you or a loved one is burned, count on the expert staff at the Burn Clinic at Kendall Regional Medical Center to help. The clinic offers both inpatient and outpatient services. For more information, call (305) 480-6690.
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Posted in How to be Healthy
Tagged boiling water, burn clinic, chemical burns, electrica burnsl, flames, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, HCA East Florida, heaters, hot water, Kendall Regional, kitchen, miami, prevent burns, scalding, steam
Early detection of this brain disorder leads to proper treatment.
Over the last decade, actor Michael J. Fox has become the public face of Parkinson’s disease, which is marked by decreased production of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Thanks to Fox’s efforts, more people know about Parkinson's and scientists are working for a cure. But would you know if you or a loved one was developing Parkinson’s? The National Parkinson’s Foundation offers some of the most common signs of the disease:
Unexpected tremors or shaking – These might be the best-known early symptoms of Parkinson’s. You might notice the tremors in your:
Loss of smell – A study from 2008 suggests loss of smell may begin years before tremors start. Parkinson’s suffers often lose the ability to smell certain foods, such as licorice, bananas and dill pickles.
Sudden movements during sleep – These can be violent leg or arm movements or even falling out of bed while deeply asleep. People prone to such movements may not even realize they're making them until told by a partner.
Trouble moving or walking – This sign of Parkinson’s can include:
feeling like your feet are too heavy to move
not swinging the arms while walking
stiffness that does not go away with activity
stiffness or pain in the shoulders or hips
Hunching over or stooping – Instead of standing straight, someone developing Parkinson’s may begin to slouch, stoop or lean more often.
Change in handwriting – Parkinson’s sufferers might begin to crowd their letters together or make them smaller than usual.
Loss of facial expression – People with Parkinson’s begin to lose control over the muscles in their face, resulting in a blank look or an expression that suggests constant anger or depression.
Feeling faint or dizzy – Feeling dizziness when standing can be linked to low blood pressure, which is associated with Parkinson’s.
Having one of these symptoms is not necessarily a cause for concern. But if you have two or more, you should contact your doctor. HCA East Florida provides the Consult-A-Nurse® service to help you locate doctors and the trained nurses can also answer questions you may have about Parkinson’s. Please call 1-866-442-2362 any time, day or night.
Posted in Neurological Health
Tagged dizziness, East Florida, facial expression, HCA, loss of smell, movement, Parkinson's disease, shaking, signs, symptom, tremors