Friday, December 9, 2016

Heart Attack and Stroke Symptoms? Call 911!

Dr. Pramod Sethi
Pramod Sethi, MD
Cone Health's Stroke Center

It's crucial to dial 911 immediately when symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke surface instead of taking a wait-and-see approach or driving yourself or a loved one to the hospital.

Brain tissue dies rapidly when a stroke cuts blood flow to the brain. We urge people to act immediately when they identify stroke symptoms by calling 911.

Arriving via emergency medical service (EMS) allows the patient to bypass the usual ED triage process and be seen immediately by providers who have been prenotified and are there waiting, all of which saves precious time.

Similarly, when it comes to heart attacks, the longer it takes to receive treatment the more heart tissue is irreparably damaged. When you call 911 immediately, outcomes improve.

Research shows that stroke patients who arrive at hospitals via an EMS that notifies the hospital are evaluated faster and are more likely to receive brain imaging and have it interpreted by a physician in a timely manner than those arriving by private transport.

In cases of stroke or heart attack, that timing can be the difference between speedy recovery and long-term disability or death. EMS responders are trained to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke and to monitor glucose, cardiac arrhythmias or elevated blood pressures. They can start peripheral IVs and administer IV fluids on the way to the ED so treatment can begin immediately upon arrival.

As the medical director of the Stroke Center at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, Dr. Sethi collaborates with a team of nurses, neurologists and interventional radiologists available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to treat acute stroke patients. It’s important to quickly assess symptoms of a heart attack or stroke so you can immediately call 911. Dr. Sethi and his staff suggest remembering the acronym FAST to recognize a stroke:

  • Face: Sudden weakness of the face 
  • Arms: Sudden weakness of an arm 
  • Speech: Sudden difficulty speaking 
  • Time: Record the time the symptoms started

Contrary to the conventional image of heart attacks, most heart attack victims start with only mild pain and aren't sure they’re having a heart attack. Signs of a heart attack include:
  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or is intermittent
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • A cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness or unusual fatigue

Never hesitate in the case of any of the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. Waiting to call 911 can be a deadly mistake.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Keep Your Days Merry and Bright: Holiday Safety Tips

Don Causey
Donald W. Causey
Corporate Director of Security Services
Cone Health

The holiday season is a time of joy and celebrations. But it is also a time when we typically see an increase in robberies, burglaries and thefts.

You can reduce your chances of becoming a victim by paying attention to your surroundings and being mindful of your own personal security. There are a number of things you can do while out in public and at home to help ensure that you – and your family – have a safe and happy holiday season.

Tips for staying safe in public:
  • Do not leave packages or valuables in your car. If you must leave things in your car, put them in the trunk or somewhere out of sight before you reach your destination. Try to be as discreet as possible to avoid attracting the attention of a would-be thief.
  • Park in busy, well-lit areas, particularly at shopping malls. The more isolated the area, the greater the chance a thief will strike.
  • Use ATM machines during daylight hours only.
  • There is safety in numbers – travel in groups with friends or co-workers.
  • Avoid carrying a large amount of cash or multiple credit cards.
  • Close zippers and snaps on purses, and secure the bag snuggly under your arm.
  • Walk with your head up and be alert to potential danger. Avoid using your cellphone or other electronic devices until you are safely inside your car or the store. 

Tips for staying safe at home:
  • Cancel deliveries and have neighbors collect your mail and newspapers when you are traveling.
  • Know your neighbors and be alert to anything suspicious in your neighborhood.
  • Use a timer to turn on lights, a TV or a radio while you are away.
  • Remember to keep exterior doors locked at all times, even when you are at home.
  • Lock your car doors even when parked in your driveway.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How to Downsize Your Portions and Appetite in 12 Easy Steps

Leslie Williams
Leslie Williams, MS, RD, LDN
Wesley Long Hospital

Giant sodas, large dinner plates and king-sized snacks make eating the right amounts of food difficult. Serving sizes have changed quite a bit over the last 20 years. In the 1980’s an order of fries averaged 210 calories. Today it averages 610 calories. Then, a slice of pizza was 500 calories and now it averages 850 calories. A soda that was 85 calories is now 250 calories.

Here are 12 tips to downsize your portions and also decrease your appetite. 
  1. Try to plan your meals and snacks. Don’t get stuck having to buy something that will be filling with little nutrition.
  2. Balance meals with healthy choices such as carbohydrates, lean protein, vegetables and small amounts of fat.
  3. Pick foods that are filling and nutritious for the calories they provide. Good choices would be whole grain breads, crackers, cereals, beans, any veggies or fruits, and lean, skinless meats.
  4. Make larger portions by blending vegetables with meat and starch. An example of this would be stir-fry or a stew.
  5. Start with small portions and slow down your eating. Put your utensil down between each bite. If you are still hungry when you have finished your meal, wait 10-15 minutes. If you find you are still hungry, eat another small portion.
  6. Make a plan for encountering adverse situations, such as the Krispy Kreme “Hot Now” sign. (hint: keep driving)
  7. Don’t skip meals. Your hunger will catch up to you when you skip and you will end up overeating.
  8. Eat enough food. In an effort to lose weight, many folks limit their calorie intake too severely and trigger food cravings and may lower their metabolism which makes losing weight more difficult.
  9. Make gradual changes. Decrease portion sizes over a reasonable amount of time so that your body can get used to having less food.
  10. Identify eating triggers. These may include an end-of-workday snack, boredom, depression or late-night munchies. Be conscious of these triggers and redirect your thoughts of food elsewhere.
  11. Remind yourself of how unhealthy junk foods are. Think of plaque building up in your arteries and how hard your pancreas is working to process these foods.
  12. Try to involve the whole family in portion control. Obesity is an epidemic not just with adults, but also with youth.

A healthy weight can be achieved through good lifestyle choices. Besides controlling the amount of food you eat, it is important to drink enough water, get enough sleep and exercise regularly. 

BONUS TIP: Regular physical activity controls appetite and food cravings while also burning calories.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Healthy Thanksgiving: Mindful Eating

Laura Watson
Laura Watson, MS, RD, CSP, LDN
Registered Dietitian
Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center

Thanksgiving is coming up this week, which often marks the beginning of an over-indulgent holiday season. However, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean weight gain or strict restraint; there is a way to keep this holiday enjoyable and healthy. The holidays are a time to spend with friends and loved ones, and taking the main focus off of food and placing it on the time you spend together can help you avoid overeating. Practicing mindful eating during the holidays and throughout the year gives you the chance to enjoy the food you eat without feeling uncomfortable full or like you’re missing out on the foods you love.

It helps to think of Thanksgiving as a normal day when it comes to how you’ll eat. Don’t “save up your appetite” for just one huge meal; start your day off with a good breakfast. Starving yourself will only encourage you to eat more since you’ll arrive at dinner hungry and focused on little other than the food. When you start to fill your plate, check out all of your options and consider these tips:
  • Don’t fill up on bread – save your appetite for the special dishes, like stuffing or pie, that you only have on Thanksgiving. 
  • Start with small portions – you can always go back for seconds! 
  • Eat slowly – savor the food you’re eating. 
  • Sit at the table – watching the game or the parade can distract you from enjoying your food, and you may not realize how much you’re eating. 
  • Stop when you are comfortable – you don’t need to eat until you feel stuffed. There will probably be plenty of leftovers for you to enjoy when you’re hungry again! 

You can use the same ideas if you plan to attend multiple Thanksgiving celebrations. Pick the best dish at each gathering, and only eat as much as you feel comfortable with.

Remembering the original intent of the holiday is a great way to start the day, and might even make it a more satisfying day as we shift the focus to some of the non-food aspects of the holiday. If you do overeat, don’t feel guilty and don’t give up on eating healthy at your next meal or snack. Think of every day as a fresh start to make healthy choices.

Cone Health understands the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle to increase and ensure overall well-being and has an exceptional team of dietitians, physicians, nurses and other related healthcare providers dedicated to educating our community on proper nutrition and other beneficial lifestyle choices.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Gratitude: Five Easy Steps to Better Living

Kitty Stafford, RN, BSN, MHA, BC
Nursing Director, Adult Services
Behavioral Health Services

There are many frustrating things in life, such as deadlines, long lines or unexpected expenses. In our modern society of immediacy and materialism, stress can overwhelm us and makes us feel out of control.

These daily feelings of anxiety and helplessness can take a toll on our health. We can combat these negative effects through exercise and diet, which are certainly beneficial. But what else can we do to bring inner peace and escape the turmoil in our lives?

Being grateful.

Gratitude is a way of making the good things in your life more visible. It means to be thankful and willing to show appreciation and to return kindness. The list of potential benefits of gratitude is endless, including:
  • Less physical pain 
  • Improved attitude toward work 
  • Greater self-confidence 
  • Fewer intellectual biases. 

There are five more ways that gratitude can change our lives for the better.
  1. Better health. Studies have shown that when people recognize things they are thankful for, they feel better both mentally and physically. 
  2. Better sleep. Those who express gratitude sleep better and longer than those who do not. 
  3. Empathy. Gratitude motivates people to express sensitivity and concern for others while lowering aggression. 
  4. Resiliency. Individuals with chronic physical or mental disorders who keep reminders of what they are thankful for have a greater sense of well-being and more positive moods. 
  5. Self-esteem. Showing gratitude increases positive feelings about yourself. 

How can we remind ourselves to be more grateful?
  • Accept a kind gesture or gift and say thank you. 
  • Keep a journal. Write down a few things each day you are thankful for. 
  • Keep reminders accessible. Place notes or objects that elicit feelings of gratefulness where you will see them throughout your day 
  • Remember. Review your personal records and photographs to reconnect with your life’s journey to reconnect with whom you’ve loved, what you learned and where you’ve been

Gratefulness can provide peace and comfort. It allows us to shake the desire to fill a void with new material. It helps us love our neighbors and help those among us who are in need. Best of all, it helps us feel better about ourselves both physically and mentally. What are you grateful for?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Infographic: How to clean your plate for a heart-healthy diet

The research is clear: Nutrition and health are closely related. Too much of the sugary, salty and fatty foods many of us began eating in childhood isn’t good for our bodies. And the problem is widespread: Half of all Americans have at least one preventable, diet related chronic disease. But the good news is that healthy food choices can help prevent and manage such chronic conditions as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Check out the tips below for heart-healthy diet ideas.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Bullying: Warning Signs that Your Child is Being Bullied

Dennis Campbell
Dennis T. Campbell II, MS, RN, CPHQ, NEA-BC
Vice President
Behavioral Health Services

Bullying can take on many forms; some direct, such as verbal and physical abuse, and some subtle, like excluding an individual from a group or spreading rumors. Victims of bullying often suffer from serious emotional scarring, low self-esteem and in severe cases, depression and sometimes suicide. Children and adolescents aren’t likely to open up to an adult when they are being bullied, which is why it is important for parents to be able to recognize signs of bullying in their children.

One of the newest, most concerning forms of bullying is cyberbullying on social media.

To recognize signs of bullying, it helps to get in the habit of asking your child about their day, and listening to who their friends are and how they are being treated. If their friends change suddenly or your child’s mood varies significantly from one day to the next, try to dig deeper and find out why.
Other signs to look for are changes in eating habits, coming home from school with unexplained injuries or damaged or missing belongings, making excuses not to go to school, acting out of character, declining grades, avoiding certain places or playing outside alone, trouble sleeping and self-blame.

If you suspect your child is being bullied, partner with their teacher or a school counselor to find a solution. If possible, involve both children and their parents in the efforts to stop the bullying and encourage reconciliation. In severe cases of bullying, children may feel helpless or not good enough and may talk about suicide, which is why it’s so important as parents to look for signs of bullying and to get involved. Fortunately, more and more efforts toward bullying prevention and intervention have been initiated throughout the country. Here in the community, Cone Health has an exceptional network of behavioral health professionals dedicated to educating and counseling children and families on bullying.

Other great resources for parents to teach their children about bullying can be found on