Why Did I Go Into Atrial Fibrillation?

Interesting article on A. Fib.

The Skeptical Cardiologist

The skeptical cardiologist is asked this  question or  variations of it (such as  what caused me to go out of rhythm?) on a daily basis.

Most patients would like to have a reason for why their atria suddenly decided to fibrillate.  It’s understandable. If they could identify the reason perhaps they could stop it from happening again.

There are two variations on this question:

For the patient who has just been diagnosed with afib the question is really “what is the underlying reason for me developing this condition?”

For the patient who has had afib for a while and it comes and goes seemingly randomly the question is “what caused the afib at this time? i.e. what triggers my episodes?”

For most patients, there is no straighforward and simple answer to either one of these questions

The Underlying Cause of Atrial Fibrillation

My stock response to…

View original post 1,145 more words

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Happy Holidays and Cheers to 2018!

In an effort to improve our site – we have moved!  The new site is:

http://turning60andbeyond.com

Past blogs will be posted on this site and hopefully they will be easier to find for your reference.  You can also follow us on facebook at T60+

 

 

Save yourself during the holidays: Drink Water

Traveling to see family?  Drink water and stay hydrated

Don’t want to eat too much?  Drink water before dinner, it will help fill you up – it takes 15 minutes for your brain to register that you are full, a tall glass of water can fake out your brain

Don’t want to drink too much?  Make your first drink a glass of water . Drinking is often social and we forget just how much we are drinking. For every drink, have a big glass of water, and slow down. Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 6.02.36 PM

 

 

 

Enjoy Thanksgiving!

Want to control portion sizes? View Portion Sizes from the National Institute on Aging at the NIH  https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/tip-sheets/serving-and-portion-sizes

Forgetfulness or Do You Fear the Worse?

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Do you find you lose the word you are looking for or put your keys down and forget where you left them?   Is it just that we are busy, overloaded, or are we secretly thinking the worse – Alzheimer’s?Forgetfulness

I remember as a kid attending the funerals of grand parents, great aunts and uncles and thinking – well, we have a few generations in front of us (my friends, siblings), so I don’t have anything to worry about.  Then a couple decades pass and the grand parents are gone, the parents are either gone or having health challenges: including forgetting birthdays, getting lost while driving, and more.  We watch more closely our parents suffering various illnesses (chronic or acute), cognitive decline (dementia, Alzheimer’s) and admire and are inspired by those that continue to be active and engaged in life well into their 90’s.  But as they began leaving us, we suddenly look in the mirror and say YIKES!  we are next  – this is the time when  being at the head of the line is not as much fun.

Being up front we get to see our friends with their chronic/acute illness, watching them become a bit more forgetful or daft and we start thinking what’s next and who’s next and what will it be.

Below is a link to a piece from the National Institute on Aging that provides some tips about Normal Forgetfulness and Alzheimer’s.   I was a bit relieved when I read it as my minor forgetfulness is considered “normal”.   Even though, keys get misplaced, documents (and we have so many of them) get muddled together. One thing we have begun in our house is to

  1. always  put our car keys in the same place, and
  2. put away what you take out.  It has saved many of “those moments”.
  3. get your documents in order – I have used the PortaVault system for years (admittedly – I have not always kept it up, but I am getting better).

Even Bill Gates is in the game – recently donating $100 million of his personal funds to support Alzeheimer’s Research.

Enjoy your November and work on putting  those keys in the same place – it will really help as we go into the holiday season when that forgetfulness rises – Ever lose your car in the parking lot?  Take a picture on your phone of where you are, or get a find my car app for your phone.  It will keep you from going crazy.

REFERENCE: National Institute on Aging: Normal Forgetfulness and Alzheimer’s http://bit.ly/2nhqeh1

 

What’s being added to your food, and why should you care?

Have you ever gotten a food product that says it is “enriched” or “fortified”?  What does that really mean?

 

Enriched Foods. Sounds like that is a good thing, right?  Often foods are enriched because original nutrients  were removed (usually by processing) – so food manufacturers put back the nutrients.  Let’s call this “replacement”. According to the FDA, foods can claim to be enriched if the contain at least 10% more of the daily value of that nutrient that foods that are not enriched.

Enriched

What are some examples of enriched foods:

Bread

Cereal

Pasta

 

 

 

 

 

Fortified Foods. This is when nutrients are just added.

Examples of fortified foods:Fortified

Milk – fortified with Vit D, Calcium

Orange Juice – fortified with calcium

Salt – Iodine was/is added to salt to help prevent goiter.

 

 

 

 

Even junk food can claim enriched or fortified – but it is still JUNK FOOD.

 

 

References:

What is enriched and fortified foods: https://www.verywell.com/what-is-enriched-food-3496104?utm_source=emailshare&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=shareurlbuttons

 

Reading Food Labels: https://www.verywell.com/read-nutrition-labels-for-weight-loss-4065403

 

FDA Food Label Guidelines: https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm

 

Food Education and even a free app to track healthier foods  https://www.fooducate.com

Every Day should be Cancer Awareness Month: Did you know that being overweight and obese are associated with cancer? Maybe this will get you moving.

Did you know that December is the only month that does not have a dedicated cancer specific awareness (from the American Cancer Society website) linked to it – is that to give us a break during the holidays?   Interesting that each month has various awareness (we are leaving breast cancer and heading into lung, stomach and pancreatic cancer awareness).  It is also amazing that there are so many cancers and that probably all of us have been touched by one or more is some way (personally, family, friends).

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified at least 13 types of cancer linked specifically to overweight and obesity https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/obesity-cancer/index.html.

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Maybe we should think a bit more about our activity level and/or what we are eating as we move toward the holiday season?  Maybe the push for  getting to 10,000 steps (doing holiday shopping, running that turkey trot?) or avoiding those yummy treats that make you want more?

I was amazed to see what types of cancer are related to weight.  Is it the food that we eat?  The weight itself?  Whatever it is, the CDC reported that 630,000 people in the US are diagnosed with cancer related to overweight and obesity. If that alone doesn’t gets you attention, not sure what will.

Get the facts and don’t wait till January 1st to start moving – just do 1 minute more activity than yesterday and keep adding another minute each day – is that too much to ask?  And add more greens (they fill you up and are good for you).

https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/pdf/2017-10-vitalsigns.pdf

Tools and Calculators

In this section  of the American Cancer Society you’ll find interactive tools, quizzes, and videos to help you learn more about ways to lower your risk for cancer or find it early.

https://www.cancer.org/healthy/tools-and-calculators.html

Make it a goal to just be a “little” healthier than yesterday.  Each day counts and it takes a few months to have those changes hardwired – just think if you start now, chipping away slowly, you will go into the new year as an improved you.

 

Does your emotional well-being improve with age? When are you happier: morning or the evening?

Research has shown that happiness in older years is generally higher. In a 2014 study conducted by English and Carstensen (see reference below), older adults reported more positive emotions in low arousal positive emotions (low arousal states are defined as: happy, content, calm relaxed) during the entire day vs. younger adults.  Younger participants felt more negative in the evening.

There was little age difference in those who were in high arousal negative emotions (high arousal negative states were defined as: anger, anxiety or sadness).

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Figures from the Engilsh and Carstensen article referenced below.

 

So the research does seem to  support that “we are more mellow as we age”.   Think about your emotions, are you happier in the morning or evening?  Are you happier than you were when you were younger?   It good to be us, isn’t it?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3944144/pdf/fpsyg-05-00185.pdf

#Runmyownrace …and it wasn’t pretty

I was scheduled to run a 10K this morning.  Piece of cake, I thought.  Bottom line, I did not run the race and when I tried to “run my own race”, it did not go well….here’s the scoop from head to toe.

  1. Head/cognition: I had all of my running gear ready to go (belt, sports beans, hat, bib – check that box).  Problem was – I was riding my bike to the run (approximately 10 miles from my home).  Night before: tires checked, bike bag placed with running gear, lights charged (pretty dark in the morning).  Looks good, yes?  One piece missing: bike lock. It usually sits in my bike basket in it’s proper place. Half way to the run, I realized I did not have the lock – ok, the nice guy at the info desk yesterday told me that have bike valet at the race and would give me a ticket (he did qualify that I was the first person that asked about riding their bike…. Hmmm). So I took my chances and low and behold – bike valet was places to “lock your bike in”.  What I feared – so, instead of risking bike theft, I figured, OK, ride home and run the 10K – no problem…
    1. Learning: Always put things in the same place and put them back when you use them. Have a check list, especially for when you go your usual routine.
  2. Heart: I was pleased to see that I was getting some good exercise riding my bike.  My Garmin watch linked to my iPhone told me my heart rate was in the 140s going up hills and back down to the low 100s on the straight away. Goody!
    1. Learning: the fact that I did have an elevated heart rate with good recovery (all good) demonstrated that I was just not having a scenic lolly gag bike ride. I was trying to get to the race.
  3. Stomach: Had my usual pre morning muffin… Nice flax seed with carrots and raisins.  I figured, this would hold me for a 6 mile run, I even had some sports beans and yogurt covered raisins in my pack (oh yeah, there was a 10 mile bike ride before the run, duh).
    1. Learning: Proper fueling is important for every race and oh yes, don’t forget EVERYTHING you are doing (bike ride included).
  4. Legs: Ah yes…

Here is a little tidbit I found that hit the nail on the head. Rubber Legs!!  Gumby – thScreen Shot 2017-10-15 at 3.25.45 PMat was me.

“When you work out harder or longer than you are used to, your muscles must adjust to the increase in intensity. Exercising causes slight damage to your muscles, which encourages them to increase in both size and strength as they heal, John Ivy notes in his book, “The Performance Zone.” If you injure your muscles more extensively than normal activity causes, your legs may feel rubbery when you first end your exercise session. Rubbery legs are more likely to occur when you increase the intensity or duration of your workout. It also can happen if you do activities that primarily require the use of your legs, such as running or riding your bike.”

Reference: https://www.livestrong.com/article/550714-rubbery-legs-after-exercise/

Overall Lesson: Don’t wing it – have a better plan.

Making Time to Really Listen to Your Patients

I read a very interesting article in Harvard Business Review that healthcare providers and patients should read.  The link to the article is below.

https://hbr.org/2017/10/making-time-to-really-listen-to-your-patients

A great quote from the article is below:

When doctor and patient join forces, the team dynamic dismantles the harmful hierarchy. Both members of the dyad can rely on each other because neither owns all the data that matter.

Another reason to have good information to share with your healthcare provider, so you can spend the time in meaningful conversation.

 

Splain it to me Lucy: Articulating your medical condition is as easy as putting on your reporter’s hat

Yesterday, after completing my 16th ½ marathon (I began running 6 years ago. My time for this run was not very good – but I had not trained for the run – I will elaborate more next post) my friends and training partners were talking about our health (yes, that seems to be a common topic when you reach 60).  My one friend stated that he had a “funky heart rhythm”.  When I probed a bit further about what was a funky heart rhythm, he was not able to articulate what that meant and shrugged it off.

Putting on my healthcare professional hat, I began thinking ….What if I had a patient that I was meeting for the first time and they told me they had a “funky heart rhythm” and that they had been see in the emergency room for this problem – but it was “nothing”.   My Sherlock Holmes hat would have to dig to try and find what that meant and determine if it is important. (lots of time used to try to figure the mystery out and it could be important or not important)

Is it not our responsibility to know what that “funky” means?  Could it be a life and death piece of information to know? Maybe,or maybe not –  so how do you “splain it?   bill-wegener-280985

Let’s break it down and use a reporter’s techniques:  Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

 

Here is an example  (please note, this is just an example)

 

  1. Who – that’s easy – it’s You!

  2. What – I had a problem with my heart, my doctor said it was xyz

  3. Where – It was discovered during a stress test

  4. When – in 2001

  5. Why – I was having a stress test because I was feeling skipping in my heart and my doctor thought I should have a stress test to find out more.

  6. How –  (let’s change this to NOW) They told me it was just some premature atrial beats and it should not cause concern.  I haven’t had a problem since.

It helps to have the descriptor of what it was, even if you don’t know the medical term. This will make the questions that are asked and the direction your healthcare provider takes much easier.  Even better – have it written down in your wallet.

example: I have premature atrial contractions (PAC’s)  which were discovered in 2001 via a stress test, there was no treatment and no medications were required.  My doctors checks this periodically.

Interesting Factoid:

The 5Ws + H formula has been attributed to English rhetorician Thomas Wilson (1524-1581), who introduced the method in his discussion of the “seven circumstances” of medieval rhetoric:

Who, what, and where, by what helpe, and by whose,
Why, how and when, doe many things disclose.

(The Arte of Rhetorique, 1560)

Reference: https://www.thoughtco.com/journalists-questions-5-ws-and-h-1691205

 

International Day of Older People 2017

Did you know that October 1st was International Day of Older People?  It was voted by the United Nations General Assembly  as a resolution on  December 14, 1990.  Of course these resolutions are considered non-binding, but what we can we as individuals do to bring attention the the International Day of Older People. Discussion about the “silver tsunami” occur, but how do we get a swell of attention or just make a small difference as an individual.  We have the opportunity and should take advantage of our voices and wisdom of older people.  Yes, sometimes it is difficult.

Isn’t it ironic that an “older person” on the International Day of Older Persons and just one day before the International Day of Non-Violence committed one of the most heinous crimes in the United States again innocent people.

We as older people should take this opportunity to help others pause and reflect on life, respect, and kindness. After all these years, we should have some wisdom to share, yes? Instead of sitting and doing nothing, take this opportunity to do one random act of kindness, give one pearl of wisdom and also to reflect on these other “Day’s recognition” – We all matter and our issues matter.

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Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_international_observances#October