Pay Close Attention to Symptoms of PAD
Peripheral Artery Disease, or PAD, is a condition that often goes undiagnosed by healthcare professionals and can lead to a heart attack or stroke, or an amputation.
With PAD, the peripheral arteries (blood vessels outside the heart) may experience the build-up of fat and cholesterol deposits, called plaque, on the inside walls due to atherosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries). Over time, this build-up narrows the artery, causing less blood to flow. You should consult with a physician if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Painful leg cramping after such activities as walking or climbing stairs
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Coldness in your lower leg or foot
- Sores on your toes, feet or legs that won’t heal
- A change in the color of your legs
People who smoke or have diabetes have the greatest risk of developing PAD due to reduced blood flow. Obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a family history of PAD are also risk factors. Most people with the condition are over the age of 50.
Treatment for peripheral artery disease has two major goals. The first is to manage symptoms, such as leg pain, so that you can resume physical activities. The second is to stop the progression of atherosclerosis throughout your body to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
You may be able to accomplish these goals with lifestyle changes. If you smoke, quitting is the single most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of complications. If lifestyle changes are not enough, you may be prescribed medicine to prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure and lose weight. An exercise program to increase the distances you can walk pain-free may be prescribed.
In some cases, angioplasty or bypass or thrombolytic therapy surgery may be necessary to treat PAD. With angioplasty, a catheter is threaded through a blood vessel to the affected artery. There, a small balloon on the tip of the catheter is inflated to reopen the artery and flatten the blockage into the artery wall, while at the same time stretching the artery to increase blood flow. A mesh framework called a stent may be placed in the artery to help keep it open. This is the same procedure doctors use to open heart arteries.
In bypass surgery, the doctor creates a graft bypass using a vessel from another part of your body or a blood vessel made of synthetic fabric. This technique allows blood to flow around — or bypass — the blocked or narrowed artery. With thrombolytic therapy, a clot-dissolving drug is injected into your artery at the point of the clot to break it up.
Flu Season Approaches
Emergency rooms at hospitals around the country are preparing for an onslaught of patients with the flu.
Not sleeping well or being under additional stress can make you more susceptible. If you smoke, this is a good time to stop, because it can lower your resistance. It is strongly recommended that people over 65 get a flu shot.
You can reduce your chances of getting the flu by following these common sense steps:
- Wash your hands throughout the day
- Keep your fingernails short
- If possible avoid people who are sick
- Drink plenty of liquids
- Don’t touch your eyes or mouth with your hands
- Use a hand sanitizer
Ways for Older Women to Stay Slim
Post-menopause women might consider four specific eating behaviors to support a loss of weight over the long term, according to new research.
The study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh was published in the September issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,
The study looked at both short- and long-term weight changes in nearly 500 overweight women in their late 50s. Over the long-term – four years, in terms of this study – those who decreased desserts, sugary beverages, and cheeses and meats (which were grouped together) and increased fruits and vegetables did best. Meanwhile, while eating fewer desserts and fried foods, drinking fewer sugary beverages, eating more fish and eating out less were linked with more weight loss over the short-term – six months – these behaviors (and the resultant weight loss) were not typically maintained long term. This finding suggests that some behaviors aren’t typically maintained long-term.
The long-term changes in diet and weight were small. An increase in one’s fruits and vegetables by two servings a day was associated with a three-pound weight loss at the end of four years (as was decreasing sugary beverages by 16 ounces daily).
Older women often blame their weight gain on a slower metabolism, but experts say the process is more complicated than that. As people age, their amount of muscle declines and their amount of body fat rises, so they burn fewer calories. This means that ultimately it is not your metabolism speed that determines if you are too heavy, but the amount you eat and how much activity you get.
Planning a Trip? Don’t Forget About Your Health
If you’re planning on traveling out of the country, getting your plane tickets and packing your suitcase may not be enough.
Travel medicine experts strongly recommend that you don’t leave home without also taking the proper health precautions.
If you’re planning on traveling to certain locations, you should see a travel doctor a month or so before because if any immunizations are recommended it takes time for the body to form antibodies to the vaccines. For example, while the Yellow Fever vaccine needs to be given a minimum of 10 days prior to entering a country that requires it, the Japanese encephalitis vaccine series and rabies pre-exposure series require 2-3 vaccines given over three to four weeks. Doctors are limited in what they can do to protect travelers who wait until the last minute to see them.
Taking precautions is not only important when traveling to countries in the developing world. Certain health issues can also present dangers in countries that are generally not viewed as part of the developing world – such as Israel, where Hepatitis A can be a problem, or the Dominican Republic, which not too many years ago had a polio scare.
Travel medicine doctors will discuss with patients the Centers for Disease Control’s (www.cdc.gov) latest recommendations on vaccines and recent health warnings.
Here are some additional things to consider:
- In addition to avoiding sink or tap water (or even brushing your teeth with the water) in developing countries, stay away from eating any food sold by street venders or found on communal tables. Other reminders: only eat fruits with a peel that you can peel yourself, avoid dairy products that are made from unpasteurized milk, stay away from raw food and undercooked meats, and only eat vegetables that are piping hot.
- Even travelers on cruises can be prey to such illnesses as noroviruses which cause diarrhea. As a result, it is suggested that travelers take alcohol sanitizers with them and wash hands frequently.
- When traveling to warmer countries stay away from swimming in fresh water lakes and streams that may contain parasites. Well chlorinated pools and saltwater are safe.
- Travelers are encouraged to pack a kit that includes basic medications for pain and headache relief and diarrhea, bug spray that includes DEET to repel mosquito-born illnesses, and antibiotics for such common problems as gastroenteritis, ear infections, sinusitis, and urinary infections.
The cost for getting vaccinated is not inexpensive – and not covered by insurance. Still, if you’re spending $10,000 to travel, choosing not to spend a few hundred dollars to keep yourself healthy seems penny wise and dollar foolish. It can be far more expensive to get ill and end up in a local hospital.
HEPATITIS C SYMPTOMS CAN LAY DORMANT FOR YEARS
Hepatitis C is the number one cause for liver transplants. It is five times more prevalent in the United States than HIV/AIDS and kills about 10,000 Americans annually.
It puts patients at risk for cirrhosis of the liver as well as liver cancer. It can be a relatively silent disease, as many people have no symptoms for years after contracting the virus. In many cases, these are people who are in their 50s and 60s, who often learn of their illness through a routine blood test and are shocked to hear they have the disease.
Primary risk factors for Hepatitis C include use of intravenous drugs (as well as intranasal administration of cocaine), promiscuous sex, blood transfusions, and exposure to tainted blood.
The good news is that recent advances in treatment have dramatically improved the success rate in eradicating the Hepatitis C virus from 50% to 80%. The old standard of care has taken a major leap forward by adding directly acting antiviral agents called DAAs. The new medication, called Incivek, is given for 12 weeks with the old treatment (peginterferon and ribavirin), with the old treatment then continued for 36 more weeks. Incivek, which received FDA earlier this year, is taken in pill form.
Thinking About a Pet?
Should a senior consider adopting a pet? And if so, what kind of pet?
Studies have shown that pet owners live longer. As loneliness is a major challenge for older people, adopting a pet makes good sense. Not only will a pet be a loving companion, but it will also help with exercise and boredom. You just have to be careful to adopt the right pet, as some pets are better for older people than others. Here are some thinks to consider:
Dogs. The size of the dog – as well as the breed – may be your biggest decision. Bigger dogs usually require fenced-in backyards and more exercise. Smaller dogs tend to be more protective of their owners. Smaller breeds are “lap dogs” and easier to transport, and usually are less energetic. There are, however, exceptions, such as high-strung breeds like Jack Russell terriers. Puppy or adult dog? Adult dogs have longer attention spans and do less damage to your house. However, with an older dog, you also acquire a dog who may have certain negative habits.
Cats. In some ways, cats can be a better choice than a dog as they tend to adjust to a wider variety of lifestyles. They do just as well in small apartment as big houses. Kittens, like puppies, tend to be more rambunctious and playful, whereas older cats are more settled and not so prone to roam. Visit a pet store or pound and get to know the various breeds before making a decision. Short-haired cats are easier to care for as they need less grooming.
Birds. Birds can also make good pets. Choices need to be made here as well. Cockatiels aren’t as nervous as parakeets and live longer. Some cockatiel owners even claim they’ve taught their birds to talk. Parrots make delightful pets and can be taught to talk, and tend to live a long time (so a senior may want to name a guardian).
Match the TV show with these famous (and not so famous) couples:
- Trixie and Ed Norton
- Gloria and Mike Stivic
- Claire and Cliff Huxtable
- Diane Chambers and Sam Malone
- Maddie Hayes and David Addison
- Betty and Barney Rubble
- Laura and Rob Petrie
- Winnie Cooper and Kevin Arnold
- Becky and Jesse Katsopolis
- Jeannie and Major Anthony Nelson
- The Dick Van Dyke Show
- Full House
- All in the Family
- The Cosby Show
- The Honeymooners
- I Dream of Jeannie
- The Flintstones
- The Wonder Years