5 Heart Attack Risks You Rarely Hear About

You’re probably well aware that high cholesterol and high blood pressure raise your risk for heart attack, and that smoking isn’t good for your heart, either. You may even know that age, gender and family history can increase heart attack risk. But have you ever heard that flu, migraines or sleep apnea also can endanger your heart? Most people haven’t.

Heart problems don’t always begin in the heart. Many times your heart’s health is slowly compromised by conditions like diabetes, obesity or chronic stress.

To protect your heart, discuss your biggest risk factors with your healthcare provider. You also may want to ask about these five surprising heart attack risks:

Migraines. Having migraines doubles your risk of heart attack, according to a 2010 study in the journal Neurology. Migraine sufferers also are more likely to have risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If you experience migraines, be sure to tell your doctor so you can be monitored for warning signs of heart disease.

Influenza. Having heart disease can make you more likely to contract the flu, and getting the flu virus can temporarily increase your risk of heart attack. Infections like the flu trigger inflammatory responses in the body, which can cause a heart attack. Your best strategy: get your flu vaccine at the beginning of flu season. A study released in October 2012 suggests a flu shot can dramatically decrease heart attacks and strokes. So if you haven’t already had your flu shot, get one!

Autoimmune disease. Certain autoimmune diseases and inflammatory syndromes like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis may ratchet up your chances of having a heart attack. The American College of Cardiology notes that several autoimmune disorders are linked to “heart block”—a problem with your heart’s electrical system. Some people may even need a pacemaker. Check with your doctor if you have an autoimmune disease and are experiencing erratic heartbeats.

Stopping aspirin therapy. Aspirin is a blood thinner that can prevent blood clots from forming. If you’ve been taking a daily aspirin as a preventive measure or because you’re a heart attack survivor, don’t suddenly stop taking it. That can boost your heart attack risk by triggering a blood clot (called the “rebound effect”). If you want to discontinue aspirin therapy, ask your healthcare provider how to wean yourself off of aspirin safely. One common method is to reduce how often you take an aspirin. Over several weeks you might go from daily to every other day to once or twice a week.

Sleep disorders. Sleep apnea, which disrupts a person’s breathing during sleep, not only affects sleep quality, it also increases the risk of heart attack, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Treatment for sleep apnea with a continuous positive airway pressure mask (CPAP) at night seems to reduce heart attack risk, perhaps because the therapy also reduces blood pressure, both at night and during the day. Lesson: don’t ignore sleep problems.

The best way to prevent heart attacks, of course, is to take care of yourself. Eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep and exercising regularly helps keep your heart in tip-top shape. For more information about The Heart & Vascular Institute at JFK Medical Center or to request a physician referral, call us 24/7 at 561-548-4JFK (4535).

Rethink your diet drink: 4 refreshing alternatives to diet soda

If you’re among the 59 percent of Americans who regularly sip diet drinks, it’s time for a change.

A new study, published in the journal Stroke in April 2017, linked diet soda with an increased risk of stroke and dementia. The study found that drinking just one artificially sweetened drink a day seemed to raise the risk nearly three times, compared with drinking less than one diet drink per week.

We think it’s time to rethink the use of artificial sweeteners, especially since this news comes on the heels of other discoveries about how they may affect your health:

  • Higher heart health risks. Older women who sipped two or more diet drinks daily had a 30 percent higher risk for a heart attack in a recent University of Iowa study of 59,614 women.
  • Trigger more food cravings. People who had diet drinks were more likely to think about and eat high-calorie, sugary snacks, a new Texas Christian University study finds.
  • May cause weight gain. In several large studies of adults and kids, diet soda-drinkers gained more weight over several years than those who sipped regular soft drinks or none at all.

But what should you sip? Not sugary drinks. We agree with our friends at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who say, “No diet-soda drinker should interpret the study as license to switch to regular soda.” There’s no doubt that the calorie and sugar overload in regular soda – and in bottled tea, iced coffee and energy drinks – is bad news for your weight, your waistline, your heart and your blood sugar. Steer clear of lower-sugar sodas starting to pop up in stores, too. They still contain a lot of refined sugar – nearly nine teaspoons in a 12-ounce can. Instead, try some of these refreshing alternatives:

1. Fruit water - Add some flavor to your water with a squeeze of lemon or lime, or use single-serve packets of tart, unsweetened lemon or lime flavoring. You can also plop a couple of strawberries, orange slices, lime wedges or cucumber rounds into a pitcher of water and refrigerate overnight.

2. Unsweetened iced tea - Brew unsweetened iced tea. Try caffeine-free or herbal flavors.

3. Iced coffee - Rustle up homemade iced coffee with or without a splash of skim milk and with a shake of cinnamon and/or a dash of vanilla extract. Brew extra in the morning or put on a pot of decaf later in the day so your iced coffee doesn’t keep you up at night.

4. Seltzer water - Try calorie-free seltzer or club soda with a citrus spritz or mix in a splash of your favorite real fruit juice for a treat.

For more information about the Neuroscience Institute at JFK Medical Center or to request a physician referral, call us 24/7 at 561-548-4JFK (4535).

This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.

When treating stroke victims: Time equals brain function

​JFK Medical Center has been a designated Comprehensive Stroke Center since 2007 — and was the first hospital in Palm Beach County to receive the designation.

As such, it is known as one of the best-equipped hospitals in the state to treat any kind of stroke or stroke complication.

In 2016, JFK Medical Center treated more than 700 stroke patients, of which 80 percent had suffered an ischemic stroke and 20 percent had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke.

The former occurs as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. The latter is caused by a ruptured blood vessel, aneurysm or abnormal tangle of blood vessels (AVM).

“Think of it this way,” said Dr. Teresita Casanova, JFK’s Medical Director of Neuroscience and Stroke, “An ischemic stroke is an interruption of blood flow to the brain; a hemorrhagic stroke is bleeding from the brain.”

JFK is the place to go
JFK Medical Center receives a large number of transfer patients from surrounding primary stroke centers, including transfers from Martin and St. Lucie Counties.

“What being a Comprehensive Stroke Center means is we can do more involved procedures — such as catheter removal of brain clots — than typical primary stroke facilities can,” said Dr. Casanova.

Round-the-clock access to minimally invasive catheter procedures to treat stroke, as well as neurosurgical availability to perform complex neurovascular procedures, such as brain-aneurysm clipping, vascular malformation surgery and carotid endarterectomy, is also available at JFK Medical Center.

Treating strokes
The main goal when treating stroke patients is to prevent the brain cells from dying in the area where the stroke occurred, explained Dr. Casanova.

“For every minute that passes after a person has a stroke, 1.9 million neurons die,” said Casanova.

For patients to survive and recover, blood flow must be restored as quickly as possible. Thus, fast treatment is critical.

The only FDA-approved treatment for ischemic stroke is tissue plasminogen activator (tPA).

The way tPA works is by dissolving the clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of blood flow.

If administered within three hours, tPA may improve the chances of recovering from a stroke.

Unfortunately, a significant number of those who experience a stroke do not get to the hospital in time for tPA treatment. This is why it is so important to identify stroke immediately.

Know the signs

Dr. Casanova stressed the need to know the signs of stroke.

Thus, be on the lookout for any sudden change in any or all of the following: speech (slurring of words, inability to speak); weakness — especially on one side; blurred or double vision; vertigo, dizziness or loss of balance.

“Strokes can happen at any age — and are often missed in young adults, and even children, because people figure that they’re too young to be suffering a stroke,” noted Dr. Casanova.

But again, the most important thing to remember when it comes to stroke is that EVERY SECOND counts.

As Dr. Casanova said of strokes: “Time equals brain!”

Nationally recognized for its Neuroscience services, JFK Medical Center is a leading treatment and resource center for people affected by complex neurological conditions. Their team of multi-disciplinary neuroscience specialists use the latest technology and treatments to diagnose and treat diverse and challenging problems involving the brain, spine, cerebrovascular system and nervous system.

For more information on the Neuroscience Institute at JFK Medical Center or to request a physician referral, call us 24/7 at 561-548-4JFK (4535) or visit www.JFKMC.com.

Why are ACL Tears so Common in Young Athletes?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the tough band of tissue that connects the shin bone to the thigh bone. Located in the middle of the knee, it helps stabilize this weight-bearing joint. Overstretching or tearing this ligament is particularly common in young athletes, but there are ways to reduce this risk. If you or one of your family members suffer from an ACL tear, turn to the trusted physicians at The Orthopedic Institute at JFK Medical Center.

Risks of ACL tears
It’s often thought that the prevalence of ACL injuries in athletes has grown, especially in young athletes, because of social pressure. Sometimes athletes are pressured to play at a competitive level year-round, instead of taking prolonged breaks from their sport during the off-season. Primarily playing just one sport, rather than a diverse range of activities, contributes to the risk of injuries. ACL tears may be more likely to affect you, if you have been athletic from an early age.

Reasons for ACL injury prevalence in women
Female athletes are at a higher risk of ACL injuries than male athletes are. More research is needed in this area, but some orthopedic specialists think that the higher levels of estrogen in females affect the ligaments in a way that make them more susceptible to injuries.

Another emerging theory is that biomechanics are different in women. In other words, when women jump, they are more likely to land with their knees slightly turned inward. Women tend to bend their knees less when jumping and landing and they also tend to maintain rigidity of the feet, directing them away from their center of gravity.

Tips for preventing ACL tears
Everyone, including parents, coaches and physical therapists play an important role in preventing ACL tears in athletes. For instance, parents can make sure their children get plenty of rest in the off-season, avoid overtraining and diversifying their sport activities. With the help of coaches and physical therapists, athletes can learn the proper techniques for running, jumping and landing.

For high quality, patient-centered orthopedic care in Atlantis, trust the specialists at The Orthopedic Institute at JFK Medical Center. Here, you can find all the healthcare services your family needs under one roof—from emergency care to surgical services to personalized rehabilitation programs. For more information or a physician referral, call us 24/7 at 561-548-4JFK (4535) or visit www.JFKMC.com.

How Do You Know if You're Washing Your Hands Correctly?

There’s a simple way to reduce your risk of respiratory infections, and to protect the health of your family and co-workers. Handwashing is a cornerstone of preventive medicine, yet many people don’t do it often enough or do it thoroughly. Here at JFK Medical Center, our healthcare providers follow strict sanitation guidelines to protect our patients. We encourage neighbors throughout our community to spend a little extra time scrubbing with soap and water.

Using the right hygiene products
Many people rely on hand sanitizers instead of washing their hands, but these products aren’t as effective as proper handwashing. Instead, use clean, running water and plenty of soap. Dry your hands on a clean towel or if you’re in a public restroom, use an air dryer.

Scrubbing your hands thoroughly
After moistening your hands in running water, turn off the tap and lather up with soap. Merely rinsing your hands isn’t enough to get rid of the germs. It’s the scrubbing action that does the trick. Scrub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to scrub the following areas:

  • Between the fingers

  • Along the fingers

  • Under the fingernails

  • On the palms and backs of your hands

  • Around the wrists

Know when to wash your hands
It’s common knowledge that people should always wash their hands after using the bathroom. To protect yourself and others from germs, you should also wash up at these times:

  • Before and after eating

  • Before, during and after preparing food

  • Before and after caring for a wound

  • Before and after caring for a surgical site

  • Before and after caring for an ill family member

  • After changing diapers

  • After helping a child use the bathroom

  • After touching contaminated surfaces, such as garbage cans

  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose

  • After handling animals or their waste

You may wish to apply hand lotion after washing your hands. Dry skin is more susceptible to cracking, which could invite infections.

Despite taking precautions, germs can still make your family sick from time to time. When troublesome symptoms develop, the emergency care team in Atlantis is here to help. JFK Medical Center is the top provider of emergency care in Palm Beach County. For more information or a physician referral, call us 24/7 at 561-548-4JFK (4535) or visit www.JFKMC.com.

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