January 2021 Health Matters

Get Blood Sugar Under Control to Ensure Heart Health By Lance Shearer The professionals at NCH work together with their patients to help them take control of their diabetes or prediabetes. It is important for the patient to become an active, participating partner in the endeavor and commit to getting and staying healthy. Studies have found that 40 percent of American adults between ages 40 and 74 have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Many of these adults are not aware that they have prediabetes, as it typically has no visible symptoms, with the only indicator being elevated blood sugar levels. As prediabetes progresses to type 2 diabetes, you might notice increased thirst and hunger, changes in urination patterns, or sudden, abrupt weight loss, according to Dr. Valeriu Neagu, MD, an endocrinologist at NCH’s Briggs Health Pavilion. In addition to the serious, even life-threatening health consequences that diabetes presents, diabetes is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, explained Dr. Neagu, which increases the patient’s risk of heart attack or stroke. Symptoms of cardiac issues could include shortness of breath, chest pain, and leg swelling. “The good news is we have new medications available to treat diabetic conditions,” he said, “both injectables for the endocrine system and tablets for the kidneys.” Dr. Neagu said that while he has the tools to get the patient’s blood sugar levels under control, “70 to 80 percent of the benefit comes from changes in diet and lifestyle.” That is where Audrey McKernan, RD, LD/N, CDE, (Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist, and Certified Diabetes Educator) comes in. Also, at the Briggs Health Pavilion, McKernan specializes in helping patients move toward a sustainable diet and lifestyle. “There are simple, practical dietary changes you can adopt that make a world of difference,” said McKernan. “We emphasize the Mediterranean diet, helping people consume mono-unsaturated fats, and working to limit saturated and trans fats. There is a big emphasis on plant-based foods.” “With the pandemic, there’s a lot of stress – many people have gained weight. But a 10 percent weight loss makes a big difference. People who follow our program are seeing results.” Currently, diabetes and prediabetes are at epidemic levels among the US population. If you have been told that you or someone you care for is at risk for diabetes or prediabetes, call the professionals at NCH Healthcare System. They are here to help with expert medical advice and to work with you to promote a healthy lifestyle and diet. For more information about the Von Arx Diabetes Center for Excellence, please call (239) 624-3450 .

Dr. Valeriu Neagu, MD

Dietitian Audrey McKernan, R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E.

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack Content provided by the American Heart Association.

In the United States, one out of seven deaths is caused by coronary heart disease, which includes heart attack. Many of those deaths can be avoided by acting quickly. A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, happens when a part of the heart muscle does not get enough blood. Coronary artery disease is the primary cause of heart attack. A less common cause is a severe spasm, or sudden contraction, of a coronary artery that can stop blood flow to the heart muscle. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle. Each year, about 635,000 people in the US have a new heart attack and about 300,000 have a repeat attack. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly with mild pain or discomfort.

The major symptoms of a heart attack are:

How to avoid a heart attack:

• Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. • Feeling weak, lightheaded, or faint. You may also break out into a cold sweat. • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back. • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders. • Shortness of breath. This often comes along with chest discomfort, but shortness of breath also can happen before chest discomfort. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptoms include, chest pain or discomfort. Women are more likely than men to have some of the other common heart attack symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/ vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

• Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. • Treat high blood pressure if you have it. • Eat foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium (salt), and added sugars. • Be physically active. • Reach and maintain a healthy weight. • Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes. • Get regular medical check-ups. If you or someone close to you show signs of a heart attack, it is important to call 9-1-1 and get help immediately. Local emergency medical services (EMS) such as the fire department or paramedics are able to begin treatment when they arrive.

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