© 2019 REACH Employee Assistance, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

It’s your health that really matters! That’s why we seek to keep you in top shape by first providing critical and cutting edge real time information about your health and all that matters inside this issue of the REACHline E-Wellness Newsletter!

Health Matters comes to you with important and preventive information on some of the most serious health risk we face. It is our wish that each day is lived with the fullness of good health for you and your family. 

 

STROKE 

Risk factors… 

The American Heart Association has identified several factors that increase the risk of stroke. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that he or she will have a stroke. Some of these you can’t control, such as increasing age, family health history, prior stroke, race and gender. But you can modify, treat or control most risk factors to lower your risk of stroke. Factors resulting from lifestyle or environment can be modified with a healthcare provider’s help.

  • Increasing age – The chance of having a stroke more than doubles for each decade of life after age 55. While stroke is common among the elderly, substantial numbers of people under 65 also have strokes. 

  • Sex – The latest data show that, overall, the incidence and prevalence of stroke are about equal for men and women. However, more than half of total stroke deaths occur in women. 

  • Heredity (family history) and race – The chance of stroke is greater in people who have a family history of stroke. African Americans have a much higher risk of death and disability from a stroke than whites, in part because blacks have a greater incidence of high blood pressure and diabetes. Asian-Pacific Islanders and Hispanics also have a high risk of stroke. 

  • Prior stroke – The risk of stroke for someone who has already had one is many times that of a person who has not. 

  • High blood pressure – High blood pressure is defined in an adult as a systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher and/or a diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher for an extended time. It’s the most important risk factor for stroke. Many people believe the effective treatment of high blood pressure is a key reason for the accelerated decline in the death rates for stroke. 

  • Cigarette smoking – In recent years studies have shown cigarette smoking to be an important risk factor for stroke. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damage the cardiovascular system in many ways. Using birth control pills and smoking cigarettes greatly increases stroke risk. 

  • Diabetes mellitus – Diabetes is an independent risk factor for stroke and is strongly correlated with high blood pressure. While diabetes is treatable, having it still increases a person’s risk of stroke. People with diabetes often also have high cholesterol and are overweight, increasing their risk even more. 

  • Carotid artery disease – The carotid arteries in your neck supply blood to your brain. A carotid artery damaged by atherosclerosis (a fatty buildup of plaque in the artery wall) may become blocked by a blood clot, causing a stroke. If you have a diseased carotid artery, your healthcare provider may hear an abnormal sound in your neck called a bruit when listening with a stethoscope. People with peripheral artery disease have a higher risk of carotid artery disease, which raises their risk of stroke. Peripheral artery disease is the narrowing of blood vessels carrying blood to leg and arm muscles. It’s caused by atherosclerosis. 

  • Heart disease – A diseased heart increases the risk of stroke. In fact, people with heart problems have more than twice the risk of stroke as people whose hearts work normally. Atrial fibrillation (the rapid, uncoordinated quivering of the heart’s upper chambers), in particular, raises the risk for stroke. Heart attack is also the major cause of death among stroke survivors 

  • Transient ischemic attacks (T.I.A.s) – TIAs are “mini-strokes” that produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. They’re strong predictors of stroke. A person who’s had one or more TIAs is almost 10 times more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who hasn’t. Don’t ignore TIAs – get medical help immediately! 

  • High red blood cell count – A moderate or marked increase in the red blood cell count is a risk factor for stroke. The reason is that more red blood cells thicken the blood and make clots more likely. 

  • Sickle cell anemia – This genetic disorder mainly affects African-American and Hispanic children. “Sickled” red blood cells are less able to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs. They also tend to stick to blood vessel walls, which can block arteries to the brain and cause a stroke. 

  • Socioeconomic factors – There’s some evidence that people of lower income and educational levels have a higher risk for stroke. 

  • Excessive alcohol intake – Excessive drinking (an average of more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men) and binge drinking can lead to stroke. It can also raise blood pressure, contribute to obesity, high triglycerides, cancer and other diseases, and cause heart failure. 

  • Certain kinds of drug abuse – Intravenous drug abuse carries a high risk of stroke from a cerebral embolism . Cocaine use has been closely related to strokes, heart attacks and a variety of other cardiovascular complications. Some of them have been fatal even in first-time cocaine users. 

Source: American Stroke Association at 1-888-4STROKE

 

Skin Cancer

Warning signs…

  • A bump or mole that is scaly, or that oozes or bleeds

  • A mole that looks different than it used to look

  • A mole whose color is spreading from the border into the surrounding skin

  • A mole that is made up of different colors -shades of tan, brown, and/or black; or dashes of red, white, and blue

  • A mole that feels different -that is itchy, tender or painful

  • A mole that is asymmetrical –where one half does not match the other half

  • A mole that has an irregular (ragged, lured) border

  • A mole that is bigger than a pencil eraser, or that is growing

Source: American Academy of Dermatology

 

Diabetes

Symptoms…

By recognizing type 2 diabetes symptoms when they first appear, you can begin to control blood sugar early on – and prevent or delay complications.

Call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent urination

  • Excessive thirst

  • Dry mouth

  • Impotence

  • Blurred vision

  • Frequent bacterial infections of the gums, skin, urinary tract, or vagina

  • Persistent fungal infections beneath the breast or in the groin

  • Cuts that are slow to heal

  • Tingling, numbness or pain in the hands or feet

  • Generalized itching

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Unexplained weight loss

Source: American Diabetes Association

 

Headaches

Triggers for onset…

  • Poor posture (i.e., tight neck and shoulder muscles)

  • Eyestrain, glare

  • Loud noise

  • Fumes (glue, paint, cigarette smoke, perfume, etc.), poor air circulation

  • Hot weather

  • Lack of sleep, fatigue

  • Sinus problems

  • Flu, head cold, allergies

  • Psychological stress

  • Hormonal changes, menstruation, PMS 

  • Skipping meals

  • Cheeses; sour cream

  • Processed meats (hot dogs, ham, salami, pepperoni, sausage)

  • Alcohol (especially red wine)

  • Caffeine

  • Chocolate: nuts

  • Some fruits, especially bananas and citrus

  • MSG (found in some tenderizers, Chinese foods, and packaged soups)

  • Sulfites (a food preservative)

  • Aged, marinated, salted, smoked, pickled, and fermented foods

Source: National Headache Foundation
Web Site: www.headaches.org

Heart Attack

The most common warning signs…

Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest.
The pain last for more than a few minutes, or goes away and then comes back.
Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, or arms.
Chest pain plus lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, and/or shortness of breath.

Less common signs…

Unusual chest, stomach, or abdominal pain.
Nausea or dizziness.
Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
Unexplained anxiety, weakness, or fatigue.
Rapid heartbeat, a cold sweat, or paleness.

Note: Not all of these symptoms occur in every attack.

Source: American Heart Association
 

High Blood Pressure

Risk factors and information…

  • Overweight (often, losing just 10 pounds can help)

  • Alcohol consumption

  • High-sodium (salt) diet (especially if you are overweight)

  • African-American heritage (tend to be salt-sensitive)

  • Family history of hypertension

  • Smoking

  • Too little calcium (e.g., nonfat dairy), magnesium and potassium (e.g., fruits and vegetables) in the diet

  • Medications (some prescription and non-prescriptions drugs and/or supplements either raise blood pressure, or interfere with the effectiveness of blood pressure lowering drugs)

Note: A normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. If your upper (systolic) pressure is consistently 140 or higher, and/or your lower (diastolic) pressure is 90 or higher, you have high blood pressure (hypertension)

Source: American Heart Association