Tag Archives: Brain

The Other Side of 40 – The Cerebrovascular System (Your Brain) – Changes, Challenges, Solutions

brain-alive

Last but not least, in the last part of this series, let’s talk about your brain. But first a summary comment. Life after 40 poses both opportunity and obstacles. 35 to 40 is either the age when your lifestyle begins to catch up with you, or the work you’ve put in begins to pay off. For those who’ve lived life smartly and healthily, 40 really is the new 30. For those who’ve lived life less diligently, 40 may as well be 60, and your health probably reflects that. It’s really not that difficult. Diet, exercise, don’t smoke and alcohol in moderation keeps a body strong. Now to your brain…

Changes: As you age, cholesterol based blockages (plaque formation) inside the arteries and hardening of the arteries in the blood vessels that supply the brain is called cerebrovascular disease, and it causes strokes. These changes begin in earnest at about age 35. Prior to the complete blockage of the blood vessels, the brain is deprived of adequate blood flow (and oxygen) resulting in less than optimal brain functioning, such as confusion, disorientation, memory loss and ‘mini-strokes’ (TIAs). Strokes may result in paralysis, speech disorder, and sensory deprivation in varying degrees.
brainaging
Challenges: Unlike many of the other systems I’ve discussed, the effects of these changes on our brain health status can be drastic, ranging from slight discomfort to death, and they involve major physical as well as social components. The social implications of these effects can be just as severe as the physical, as those suffering become less functional both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, in varying degrees stroke survivors become or perceive themselves to be a burden to others. Social interactions are doubly inhibited: internally, the patient is less able to interact; and externally, family, friends, and others may be less interested in interacting with them. This is sad, but true (think about the lives of the stroke survivors you may know…).
Solutions: The alternatives are twofold: after the fact, education is essential by a loved one’s support group and community, otherwise a stroke becomes a different type of life sentence. Physical and occupational therapy save lives and the quality of lives. Continuing to value and show value to your loved ones can make all the difference in the world. Before the fact, again, it’s preventive measures such as diet and exercise that have been shown to decrease or even prevent strokes. I cannot overemphasize how vital diet, exercise and the avoidance of toxins are to your long-term health.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following SNC! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: End of Life Decision Making

end-of-life_tcm7-91616

Having this conversation when death is staring you or a loved one in the face is not the most ideal situation. Do you have a living will? Do you know what advance directives are? Have you assigned a healthcare power of attorney? For the overwhelming majority of you who do not, I hope to turn those answers to “Yes.”
I’m not talking about anyone’s fictitious “death panels.” What I’m describing are the legal tools at your disposal that enable you to control the circumstances surrounding your death. It needs to sink in: at any age your life could be at risk, and at any age you could die. When your life is threatened, if you have specific desires, you’ll need someone comply with decisions. It could happen today. You need to be protected now. You’re much more protected having declared your interests and desires than not. Read on.

AdvanceDirective

Simply put, advance directives should result after a thoughtful conversation between you and your loved one(s) and subsequently with your healthcare provider. Advance directives document your preferences on what specific decisions should and shouldn’t be made in an effort to save your life or allow your life to end. Here are some of the decisions that can be covered by advanced directives. They don’t all have to be addressed. You may just include the ones of interest to you, leaving discretion to your physicians and/or family just as may have occurred, say, when you weren’t in a coma.

  • Do you care to be intubated? The use of breathing tubes to either protect your airway or breathe for you when you’re unable to is a big deal. The decision to accept or forego this might be an immediately life-prolonging or life-ending decision.
  • Do you care to have advanced cardiac life support in the event that your heart either stops or is unstable? As with intubation, there’s an immediacy to this decision that’s better addressed in a moment of quiet reflection than in the emotion of crisis.
  • Do you want transfusions of blood or other blood products? Some religions have strong declarations on the topic. If you haven’t made your decision not to receive blood known in a legal document, and you are unable to express that decision in a life or death situation, physicians will try to save your life with an infusion. They will not adhere to your choice, because they won’t know what it is. That scenario doesn’t have to happen.
  • Do you want “every possible thing done for you,” or might there be a limit in the face of perceived medical futility (i.e., minimal chance of any success)? Basically, this question gets at whether you’d like to go in peace or in a blaze of resuscitative glory and heroic effort.
    • If you’re in the midst of a terminal illness and/or are comatose with no perceptible chance of recovery, will you want medicines and treatments (such as dialysis to remove toxins from your body) to ease pain and suffering, or will you want to be allowed to die?
    • Will you want the medical staff to feed you if you can’t feed yourself?
    • Will you want to donate your organs?

endoflifedeath

As you can see, these are serious questions to consider, and I’d hope you’d agree they are worthy of conversation well in advance of a tragedy. In my next post, I’ll discuss some related logistical considerations around end-of–life care and decision-making. I hope this has gotten you to thinking and planning on having important conversations.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Life Begins (To End) at 40 (Unless It Doesn’t) – The Cerebrovascular System (Your Brain)

brain-alive

Last but not least, in the last part of this series, let’s talk about your brain. But first a summary comment. Life after 40 poses both opportunity and obstacles. 35 to 40 is either the age when your lifestyle begins to catch up with you, or the work you’ve put in begins to pay off. For those who’ve lived life smartly and healthily, 40 really is the new 30. For those who’ve lived life less diligently, 40 may as well be 60, and your health probably reflects that. It’s really not that difficult. Diet, exercise, don’t smoke and alcohol in moderation keeps a body strong. Now to your brain…

Changes: As you age, cholesterol based blockages (plaque formation) inside the arteries and hardening of the arteries in the blood vessels that supply the brain is called cerebrovascular disease, and it causes strokes. These changes begin in earnest at about age 35. Prior to the complete blockage of the blood vessels, the brain is deprived of adequate blood flow (and oxygen) resulting in less than optimal brain functioning, such as confusion, disorientation, memory loss and ‘mini-strokes’ (TIAs). Strokes may result in paralysis, speech disorder, and sensory deprivation in varying degrees.
brainaging
Challenges: Unlike many of the other systems I’ve discussed, the effects of these changes on our brain health status can be drastic, ranging from slight discomfort to death, and they involve major physical as well as social components. The social implications of these effects can be just as severe as the physical, as those suffering become less functional both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, in varying degrees stroke survivors become or perceive themselves to be a burden to others. Social interactions are doubly inhibited: internally, the patient is less able to interact; and externally, family, friends, and others may be less interested in interacting with them. This is sad, but true (think about the lives of the stroke survivors you may know…).
Solutions: The alternatives are twofold: after the fact, education is essential by a loved one’s support group and community, otherwise a stroke becomes a different type of life sentence. Physical and occupational therapy save lives and the quality of lives. Continuing to value and show value to your loved ones can make all the difference in the world. Before the fact, again, it’s preventive measures such as diet and exercise that have been shown to decrease or even prevent strokes. I cannot overemphasize how vital diet, exercise and the avoidance of toxins are to your long-term health.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: End of Life Decision Making

end-of-life_tcm7-91616

Having this conversation when death is staring you or a loved one in the face is not the most ideal situation. Do you have a living will? Do you know what advance directives are? Have you assigned a healthcare power of attorney? For the overwhelming majority of you who do not, I hope to turn those answers to “Yes.”
I’m not talking about anyone’s fictitious “death panels.” What I’m describing are the legal tools at your disposal that enable you to control the circumstances surrounding your death. It needs to sink in: at any age your life could be at risk, and at any age you could die. When your life is threatened, if you have specific desires, you’ll need someone comply with decisions. It could happen today. You need to be protected now. You’re much more protected having declared your interests and desires than not. Read on.

AdvanceDirective

Simply put, advance directives should result after a thoughtful conversation between you and your loved one(s) and subsequently with your healthcare provider. Advance directives document your preferences on what specific decisions should and shouldn’t be made in an effort to save your life or allow your life to end. Here are some of the decisions that can be covered by advanced directives. They don’t all have to be addressed. You may just include the ones of interest to you, leaving discretion to your physicians and/or family just as may have occurred, say, when you weren’t in a coma.

  • Do you care to be intubated? The use of breathing tubes to either protect your airway or breathe for you when you’re unable to is a big deal. The decision to accept or forego this might be an immediately life-prolonging or life-ending decision.
  • Do you care to have advanced cardiac life support in the event that your heart either stops or is unstable? As with intubation, there’s an immediacy to this decision that’s better addressed in a moment of quiet reflection than in the emotion of crisis.
  • Do you want transfusions of blood or other blood products? Some religions have strong declarations on the topic. If you haven’t made your decision not to receive blood known in a legal document, and you are unable to express that decision in a life or death situation, physicians will try to save your life with an infusion. They will not adhere to your choice, because they won’t know what it is. That scenario doesn’t have to happen.
  • Do you want “every possible thing done for you,” or might there be a limit in the face of perceived medical futility (i.e., minimal chance of any success)? Basically, this question gets at whether you’d like to go in peace or in a blaze of resuscitative glory and heroic effort.
  • If you’re in the midst of a terminal illness and/or are comatose with no perceptible chance of recovery, will you want medicines and treatments (such as dialysis to remove toxins from your body) to ease pain and suffering, or will you want to be allowed to die?
  • Will you want the medical staff to feed you if you can’t feed yourself?
  • Will you want to donate your organs?

endoflifedeath

As you can see, these are serious questions to consider, and I’d hope you’d agree they are worthy of conversation well in advance of a tragedy. In my next post, I’ll discuss some related logistical considerations around end-of–life care and decision-making. I hope this has gotten you to thinking and planning on having important conversations.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Life Begins (To End) at 40 (Unless It Doesn’t) – The Cerebrovascular System (Your Brain)

brain-alive

Last but not least, in the first part of this series, let’s talk about your brain. But first a summary comment. Life after 40 poses both opportunity and obstacles. 35 to 40 is either the age when your lifestyle begins to catch up with you, or the work you’ve put in begins to pay off. For those who’ve lived life smartly and healthily, 40 really is the new 30. For those who’ve lived life less diligently, 40 may as well be 60, and your health probably reflects that. It’s really not that difficult. Diet, exercise, don’t smoke and alcohol in moderation keeps a body strong. Now to your brain…

Changes: As you age, cholesterol based blockages (plaque formation) inside the arteries and hardening of the arteries in the blood vessels that supply the brain is called cerebrovascular disease, and it causes strokes. These changes begin in earnest at about age 35. Prior to the complete blockage of the blood vessels, the brain is deprived of adequate blood flow (and oxygen) resulting in less than optimal brain functioning, such as confusion, disorientation, memory loss and ‘mini-strokes’ (TIAs). Strokes may result in paralysis, speech disorder, and sensory deprivation in varying degrees.
brainaging
Challenges: Unlike many of the other systems I’ve discussed, the effects of these changes on our brain health status can be drastic, ranging from slight discomfort to death, and they involve major physical as well as social components. The social implications of these effects can be just as severe as the physical, as those suffering become less functional both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, in varying degrees stroke survivors become or perceive themselves to be a burden to others. Social interactions are doubly inhibited: internally, the patient is less able to interact; and externally, family, friends, and others may be less interested in interacting with them. This is sad, but true (think about the lives of the stroke survivors you may know…).
Solutions: The alternatives are twofold: after the fact, education is essential by a loved one’s support group and community, otherwise a stroke becomes a different type of life sentence. Physical and occupational therapy save lives and the quality of lives. Continuing to value and show value to your loved ones can make all the difference in the world. Before the fact, again, it’s preventive measures such as diet and exercise that have been shown to decrease or even prevent strokes. I cannot overemphasize how vital diet, exercise and the avoidance of toxins are to your long-term health.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Life Begins (To End) at 40 (Unless It Doesn’t) – The Cerebrovascular System (Your Brain)

brain-alive

Last but not least, in the first part of this series, let’s talk about your brain. But first a summary comment. Life after 40 poses both opportunity and obstacles. 35 to 40 is either the age when your lifestyle begins to catch up with you, or the work you’ve put in begins to pay off. For those who’ve lived life smartly and healthily, 40 really is the new 30. For those who’ve lived life less diligently, 40 may as well be 60, and your health probably reflects that. It’s really not that difficult. Diet, exercise, don’t smoke and alcohol in moderation keeps a body strong. Now to your brain…

Changes: As you age, cholesterol based blockages (plaque formation) inside the arteries and hardening of the arteries in the blood vessels that supply the brain is called cerebrovascular disease, and it causes strokes. These changes begin in earnest at about age 35. Prior to the complete blockage of the blood vessels, the brain is deprived of adequate blood flow (and oxygen) resulting in less than optimal brain functioning, such as confusion, disorientation, memory loss and ‘mini-strokes’ (TIAs). Strokes may result in paralysis, speech disorder, and sensory deprivation in varying degrees.
brainaging
Challenges: Unlike many of the other systems I’ve discussed, the effects of these changes on our brain health status can be drastic, ranging from slight discomfort to death, and they involve major physical as well as social components. The social implications of these effects can be just as severe as the physical, as those suffering become less functional both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, in varying degrees stroke survivors become or perceive themselves to be a burden to others. Social interactions are doubly inhibited: internally, the patient is less able to interact; and externally, family, friends, and others may be less interested in interacting with them. This is sad, but true (think about the lives of the stroke survivors you may know…).
Solutions: The alternatives are twofold: after the fact, education is essential by a loved one’s support group and community, otherwise a stroke becomes a different type of life sentence. Physical and occupational therapy save lives and the quality of lives. Continuing to value and show value to your loved ones can make all the difference in the world. Before the fact, again, it’s preventive measures such as diet and exercise that have been shown to decrease or even prevent strokes. I cannot overemphasize how vital diet, exercise and the avoidance of toxins are to your long-term health.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, AmazonBarnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright, Sterling Initiatives, LLC. 2013-2015

Straight, No Chaser: End of Life Decision Making

end-of-life_tcm7-91616

Having this conversation when death is staring you or a loved one in the face is not the most ideal situation. Do you have a living will? Do you know what advance directives are? Have you assigned a healthcare power of attorney? For the overwhelming majority of you who do not, I hope to turn those answers to “Yes.”
I’m not talking about anyone’s fictitious “death panels.” What I’m describing are the legal tools at your disposal that enable you to control the circumstances surrounding your death. It needs to sink in: at any age your life could be at risk, and at any age you could die. When your life is threatened, if you have specific desires, you’ll need someone comply with decisions. It could happen today. You need to be protected now. You’re much more protected having declared your interests and desires than not. Read on.

AdvanceDirective

Simply put, advance directives should result after a thoughtful conversation between you and your loved one(s) and subsequently with your healthcare provider. Advance directives document your preferences on what specific decisions should and shouldn’t be made in an effort to save your life or allow your life to end. Here are some of the decisions that can be covered by advanced directives. They don’t all have to be addressed. You may just include the ones of interest to you, leaving discretion to your physicians and/or family just as may have occurred, say, when you weren’t in a coma.

  • Do you care to be intubated? The use of breathing tubes to either protect your airway or breathe for you when you’re unable to is a big deal. The decision to accept or forego this might be an immediately life-prolonging or life-ending decision.
  • Do you care to have advanced cardiac life support in the event that your heart either stops or is unstable? As with intubation, there’s an immediacy to this decision that’s better addressed in a moment of quiet reflection than in the emotion of crisis.
  • Do you want transfusions of blood or other blood products? Some religions have strong declarations on the topic. If you haven’t made your decision not to receive blood known in a legal document, and you are unable to express that decision in a life or death situation, physicians will try to save your life with an infusion. They will not adhere to your choice, because they won’t know what it is. That scenario doesn’t have to happen.
  • Do you want “every possible thing done for you,” or might there be a limit in the face of perceived medical futility (i.e., minimal chance of any success)? Basically, this question gets at whether you’d like to go in peace or in a blaze of resuscitative glory and heroic effort.
  • If you’re in the midst of a terminal illness and/or are comatose with no perceptible chance of recovery, will you want medicines and treatments (such as dialysis to remove toxins from your body) to ease pain and suffering, or will you want to be allowed to die?
  • Will you want the medical staff to feed you if you can’t feed yourself?
  • Will you want to donate your organs?

endoflifedeath

As you can see, these are serious questions to consider, and I’d hope you’d agree they are worthy of conversation well in advance of a tragedy. In my next post, I’ll discuss some related logistical considerations around end-of–life care and decision-making. I hope this has gotten you to thinking and planning on having important conversations.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: End of Life Decision Making

AdvanceDirective

Do you have a living will? Do you know what advance directives are? Have you assigned a healthcare power of attorney? For the overwhelming majority of you who do not, I hope to turn those answers to “Yes.” I’m not talking about anyone’s fictitious “death panels.” What I’m describing are the legal tools at your disposal that enable you to control the circumstances surrounding your death. Please understand that at any age your life could be at risk, you could die, and you could need someone comply with decisions; as such, you need to be protected now. You’re much more protected having declared your interests and desires than not. Read on.
Simply put, advance directives should result after a thoughtful conversation between you and your loved one(s) and, subsequently, with your healthcare provider. Advance directives document your preferences on what specific decisions should and shouldn’t be made in an effort to save your life or allow your life to end. Here are some of the decisions that can be covered by advanced directives. They don’t all have to be addressed. You may just include the ones of interest to you, leaving discretion to your physicians and/or family just as may have occurred, say, when you weren’t in a coma.

  • Do you care to be intubated? The use of breathing tubes to either protect your airway or breathe for you when you’re unable to is a big deal. The decision to accept or forego this might be an immediately life-prolonging or life-ending decision.
  • Do you care to have advanced cardiac life support in the event that your heart either stops or is unstable? As with intubation, there’s an immediacy to this decision that’s better addressed in a moment of quiet reflection than in the emotion of crisis.
  • Do you want transfusions of blood or other blood products? Some religions have strong declarations on the topic. If you haven’t made your decision not to receive blood known in a legal document and you are unable to express that decision in a life or death situation, physicians will try to save your life with an infusion. They will not adhere to your choice, because they won’t know what it is. That doesn’t have to happen.
  • Do you want “every possible thing done for you,” or might there be a limit in the face of perceived medical futility (i.e., minimal chance of any success)? Basically, this question gets at whether you’d like to go in peace or in a blaze of resuscitative glory and heroic effort.
  • If you’re in the midst of a terminal illness and/or are comatose with no perceptible chance of recovery, will you want medicines and treatments (such as dialysis to remove toxins from your body) to ease pain and suffering or will you want to be allowed to expire?
  • Will you want the medical staff to feed you if you can’t feed yourself?
  • Will you want to donate your organs?

As you can see, these are serious questions to consider, and I’d hope you’d agree they are worthy of conversation well in advance of a tragedy. In my next post, I’ll discuss some related logistical considerations around end-of–life care and decision-making. I hope this has gotten you to thinking and planning on having important conversations.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what  http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Heads Up! Traumatic Brain Injuries (Concussions), Part I

concussion-football
Human Shark Week continues with a discussion about concussions.  The really interesting thing about concussions these days is many individuals seem to have convinced themselves that the risk of a concussion or even continuing in football, wrestling, boxing or MMA type activities after having had concussions won’t deter them from pursuing the glory, fame and fortune to be obtained in putting themselves at risk. That’s a fascinating but very flawed concept, as evidenced by the increasing suicide rate among concussed former athletes.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a blunt or penetrating head blow that disrupts some aspect of normal brain function. TBIs may produce changes ranging from brief alterations in mental status or consciousness to an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia (It’s important to note that not all blows to the head result in a TBI.). For the purposes of this discussion, the majority of TBIs that occur each year are concussions. In terms of societal impact, TBIs contributes to a remarkable number of deaths and permanent disability. Every year, at least 1.7 million TBIs occur in the US.
Health care professionals may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life threatening. Even so, their effects can be serious. Concussive symptoms usually fall in one of four categories:

  • Thinking/remembering
  • Physical
  • Emotional/mood
  • Sleep

Red Flags:
Get to the ER right away if you have any of the following danger signs after any type of head injury, no matter how minor it may seem:

  • Any difficulty being awakened
  • Any loss of consciousness, confusion or significant agitation
  • Have one pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other
  • Loss of ability to recognize people, places or inability to identify the date or themselves
  • Loss of motion or sensation, weakness, numbness or loss of coordination
  • Persistent, worsening headache
  • Repeated vomiting.
  • Slurred speech or difficulty with expression
  • Seizures
  • Kids will not stop crying and cannot be consoled
  • Kids will not nurse or eat

This afternoon, in Part II, we will discuss complications and treatment options.

Straight, No Chaser: Mass Trauma Alert – When Disaster Strikes

tornado
If you’ve become a regular reader of Straight, No Chaser (thank you!), you will note the recurring theme of prevention. There’s often just not enough time to act in the midst of a life-threatening emergency. Today, I’m just asking you to put together a simple contingency, emergency supplies kit for whatever disaster may befall you and your family. Should you ever need it, I suspect you’ll be glad you did. The disaster you’re preparing for could last hours or more than a few days. Depending on where you live, it could be a hurricane, tornado, blizzard, or wildfire. Or maybe you’ve just become trapped inside your home; maybe you’re trapped outside your home, and your children are trapped at home. You might not have access to food, water, or electricity. With preparation of emergency water, food, and a disaster supplies kit, you can provide for and protect your entire family.
Without getting precise or complicated, it’s a very good idea to assemble a basic collection of items in the event of any emergency or disaster. All of this should sound basic and obvious, but, unless assembled and at the ready, you might not be able to access what you need. It would be good to strategically place kits at home, work, and/or car. Also consider any unique health and medical needs of your family, and include these in your kit. Store at least a 3-day supply, and if at all possible, up to a 2-week supply that will cover each member of your family. Don’t forget to consider your pets. Here’s a list of essentials. Use it to customize and develop your kit.

  • Water—one gallon per person, per day. This is a must. Think one half-gallon for drinking and another for food preparation and hygiene. If you are unable to store this much, store as much as you can without making your kit too difficult to maneuver. You can conserve water and energy of water by reducing activity and staying cool.
  • Food—non­perishable, easy to prepare items (Don’t forget the can opener.)
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7­-day supply) and any supplies needed to administer them
  • Flashlight
  • Battery­ powered radio (will last longer than the charge on your smartphone)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Extra batteries for everything
  • Multi­purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (birth certificates, insurance policies, medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, etc.) with family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blankets and towels
  • Area maps
  • Extra house and car keys
  • Protective masks
  • Rain gear
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat, and sturdy shoes
  • Duct tape
  • Something to cut with (scissors, pocket knife)
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Entertainment items and other creature comfort items to help maintain your sanity

Pack the items in easy-to-carry containers, label the containers clearly, and store them where they would be easily accessible. Rollable trash containers and backpacks are very good for this purpose. In a disaster situation, you may need access to your disaster supplies kit quickly—whether you are sheltering at home or evacuating.
So there you have it. I’ve tried to be basic. Much more detailed information is available, and I’d suggest you tailor your kit to what types of disasters are most likely in your area. Take an hour and do this. Without a good disaster plan and kit, the disaster itself will only be the first wave of trauma to hit.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) will offer beginning November 1. Until then enjoy some our favorite posts and frequently asked questions as well as a daily note explaining the benefits of SMA membership. Please share our page with your Friends on WordPress, and we can be found on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
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Straight, No Chaser: Stroke Recognition

strokerecog

Let’s talk about strokes, aka Cerebral Vascular Accidents (CVA) and Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA), and specifically about recognition and treatment. If you don’t remember anything else here, commit the mneumonic FAST to memory. (Details follow.)
A stroke (CVA) is an insult to some part of your brain, usually due to an inability of the blood supply to deliver needed oxygen and nutrients to that part of the brain. The brain actually approximates a “body map,” so depending on what part of your brain is affected, different parts of your body will be predictably affected. Technically, a stroke isn’t a stroke until the symptoms have been there for more than 24 hours; until then and/or if the symptoms reverse within that timeframe, the same scenario is called a TIA or a “mini-stroke.”

Think FAST, Act Faster

Here’s how the layperson can recognize a possible stroke:

  • Face: Ask the affected person to show you his/her teeth (or gums). In a stroke the face often droops or is otherwise noticeably different.
  • Arms: Ask the person to lift and extend the arms so the elbows are at eye level. In a stroke one side will often be weak and drift downward.
  • Speech: Ask the person to say any sentence to you. In a stroke the speech will slur or otherwise be abnormal.
  • Time: If any of the above occur, it’s recommended that you call 911 immediately, but if it’s my family, I’m getting in a car and going to the nearest MAJOR medical center—not the nearest hospital, which is where the ambulance will take you. There are important differences in hospitals when it comes to stroke treatment (which you won’t know offhand), because some are designated stroke centers and others are not. Friends, this is not the situation where you should wait hours or overnight to see if things get better. Time is (brain) tissue.

It is VERY important that you act on any of the above symptoms (F-A-S) within three (3) hours of symptom onset. Important treatment options are available within the first four and a half (4 ½) hours that are otherwise unavailable.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) will offer beginning November 1. Until then enjoy some our favorite posts and frequently asked questions as well as a daily note explaining the benefits of SMA membership. Please share our page with your Friends on WordPress, and we can be found on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Life Begins (To End) at 40 (Unless It Doesn’t) – The Cerebrovascular System (Your Brain)

brainaging

Last but not least, in the first part of this series, let’s talk about your brain. But first a summary comment. Life after 40 poses both opportunity and obstacles. 35 to 40 is either the age when your lifestyle begins to catch up with you, or the work you’ve put in begins to pay off. For those who’ve lived life smartly and healthily, 40 really is the new 30. For those who’ve lived life less diligently, 40 may as well be 60, and your health probably reflects that. It’s really not that difficult. Diet, exercise, don’t smoke and alcohol in moderation keeps a body strong. Now to your brain…

Changes: As you age, cholesterol based blockages (plaque formation) inside the arteries and hardening of the arteries in the blood vessels that supply the brain is called cerebrovascular disease, and it causes strokes. These changes begin in earnest at about age 35. Prior to the complete blockage of the blood vessels, the brain is deprived of adequate blood flow (and oxygen) resulting in less than optimal brain functioning, such as confusion, disorientation, memory loss and ‘mini-strokes’ (TIAs). Strokes may result in paralysis, speech disorder, and sensory deprivation in varying degrees.
Challenges: Unlike many of the other systems I’ve discussed, the effects of these changes on our brain health status can be drastic, ranging from slight discomfort to death, and they involve major physical as well as social components. The social implications of these effects can be just as severe as the physical, as those suffering become less functional both mentally and physically. Unfortunately, in varying degrees stroke survivors become or perceive themselves to be a burden to others. Social interactions are doubly inhibited: internally, the patient is less able to interact; and externally, family, friends, and others may be less interested in interacting with them. This is sad, but true (think about the lives of the stroke survivors you may know…).
Solutions: The alternatives are twofold: after the fact, education is essential by a loved one’s support group and community, otherwise a stroke becomes a different type of life sentence. Physical and occupational therapy save lives and the quality of lives. Continuing to value and show value to your loved ones can make all the difference in the world. Before the fact, again, it’s preventive measures such as diet and exercise that have been shown to decrease or even prevent strokes. I cannot overemphasize how vital diet, exercise and the avoidance of toxins are to your long-term health.
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Straight, No Chaser: End of Life Decision Making

AdvanceDirective
Do you have a living will? Do you know what advance directives are? Have you assigned a healthcare power of attorney? For the overwhelming majority of you who do not, I hope to turn those answers to “Yes.” I’m not talking about anyone’s fictitious “death panels.” What I’m describing are the legal tools at your disposal that enable you to control the circumstances surrounding your death. Please understand that at any age your life could be at risk, you could die, and you could need someone comply with decisions; as such, you need to be protected now. You’re much more protected having declared your interests and desires than not. Read on.
Simply put, advance directives should result after a thoughtful conversation between you and your loved one(s) and, subsequently, with your healthcare provider. Advance directives document your preferences on what specific decisions should and shouldn’t be made in an effort to save your life or allow your life to end. Here are some of the decisions that can be covered by advanced directives. They don’t all have to be addressed. You may just include the ones of interest to you, leaving discretion to your physicians and/or family just as may have occurred, say, when you weren’t in a coma.

  • Do you care to be intubated? The use of breathing tubes to either protect your airway or breathe for you when you’re unable to is a big deal. The decision to accept or forego this might be an immediately life-prolonging or life-ending decision.
  • Do you care to have advanced cardiac life support in the event that your heart either stops or is unstable? As with intubation, there’s an immediacy to this decision that’s better addressed in a moment of quiet reflection than in the emotion of crisis.
  • Do you want transfusions of blood or other blood products? Some religions have strong declarations on the topic. If you haven’t made your decision not to receive blood known in a legal document and you are unable to express that decision in a life or death situation, physicians will try to save your life with an infusion. They will not adhere to your choice, because they won’t know what it is. That doesn’t have to happen.
  • Do you want “every possible thing done for you,” or might there be a limit in the face of perceived medical futility (i.e., minimal chance of any success)? Basically, this question gets at whether you’d like to go in peace or in a blaze of resuscitative glory and heroic effort.
  • If you’re in the midst of a terminal illness and/or are comatose with no perceptible chance of recovery, will you want medicines and treatments (such as dialysis to remove toxins from your body) to ease pain and suffering or will you want to be allowed to expire?
  • Will you want the medical staff to feed you if you can’t feed yourself?
  • Will you want to donate your organs?

As you can see, these are serious questions to consider, and I’d hope you’d agree they are worthy of conversation well in advance of a tragedy. In my next post, I’ll discuss some related logistical considerations around end-of–life care and decision-making. I hope this has gotten you to thinking and planning on having important conversations.

Straight, No Chaser: This is Specifically For the Faint of Heart

faint
Don’t faints seem mysterious?  It’s as if your computer crashed and had to reboot.  Although we never seemingly figure out why computers are so crazy, fainting (syncope) is reducible to a common denominator: something causes a decrease in blood flow to your brain.  Recall that oxygen and other needed nutrients are carried in blood, so even a temporary stoppage or shortage of blood flow shuts things down.  Now extrapolate that to strokes and comas, which are often due to serious and prolonged causes of blockage to the blood vessels supplying the brain.  This is a prime example of why good blood flow and good health are so important.  The brain is a highly efficient, oxygen and energy-guzzling organ.  Shut it down for even a few seconds, and bad things start to happen.  Consider fainting a warning sign.
I’m going to start by offering some Quick Tips to help if you find yourself around someone who has fainted.  Then, I will get into the weeds of why these things happen for those interested.  I’m doing this so you can check these and determine where your risks may be.

  • Call 911.  Make sure the person is still breathing and has a pulse.  If not, start CPR.
  • Loosen clothing, especially around the neck.
  • Elevate the legs above the level of the chest.
  • If the fainter vomited, turn him/her to the side to help avoid choking and food going down the airway (aspiration).
  • A diabetic may have been given instructions to eat or drink something if s/he feels as if s/he is going to faint.  If you know this, a faint would be a good time to administer any glucose gel or supplies advised by a physician.  Prompt treatment of low blood sugar reactions is a life-saver.  Discuss and coordinate how you can perform this effort on behalf of your friends and family with their physicians.
  • If it’s possible that the faint is part of some heat emergency (heat exhaustion or heat stroke), follow these steps to save a life (click here).

Actually, faints are caused by all kinds of medical problems.  I list a few notable causes below, but whether the front end difficulty is with the heart pumping, the nerves conducting, or the content of oxygen or energy being delivered, the end result is the same.

  • Decreased nerve tone (vasovagal syncope): This is the most common cause of faints, and contrary to what you might think, it happens more often in kids and young adults than in the elderly.  Understand that your nerves actually regulate blood flow (analogous to a train conductor telling the heart to speed up or pump harder or not).  Changes in nerve tone can result in errant signals being sent, transiently resulting in low flow.
  • Diseases and conditions that affect the nervous system and/or ability to regulate blood pressure: Alcoholism, dehydration, diabetes and malnutrition are conditions that may depress the nervous system.  Alternatively, coughing, having a bowel movement (especially if straining) and urination may abnormally stimulate the system.  In the elderly and those bedridden, simply standing can cause fainting due to difficulty regulating blood pressure.  In this case, standing causes a sharp drop in blood pressure.
  • Anemia: A deficiency in blood cells can lead to a deficiency in oxygen delivery to the brain.
  • Arrhythmias (irregular heart beats): Inefficiency in your heartbeat leads to unstable delivery of blood to the brain.
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia): Low energy states can deplete the body of what it needs to operate effectively, leading to low blood flow.
  • Medications (especially those treating high blood pressure): anything that lowers the heart’s ability to vigorously pump blood around the body can leave the brain inadequately supplied, leading to a blackout.  Let’s include illicit drugs and alcohol in this category.
  • Panic attacks: Hyperventilation caused by anxiety and panic upset the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the brain, which can lead to fainting spells.
  • Seizures: Here’s a chicken and egg scenario.  A prolonged faint can lead to a seizure, and seizures lead to periods of unconsciousness, during and after the seizure.  The lack of oxygen is a common denominator.