Even though CPR and AED Awareness Week was the first week of June, I think it’s important to be aware year-round. I recently received my CPR Anytime Kit from the American Heart Association, and I wanted to share it with you along with some important information that I received from them. You can get your own CPR Anytime Kit at www.shopheart.org – what a great teaching tool for your family!
Important information about CPR from AHA:
Only about 46% of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest receive the immediate help that they need before professional help arrives.
About 70% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes. If you are called on to give CPR in an emergency, you will most likely be trying to save the life of someone you love: a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend. CPR, especially if performed immediately, could double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.
Women are also less likely to receive CPR from a bystander. Barriers include fear of legal ramifications and accusations of inappropriate touching.
Adult & Child CPR Anytime kits contain everything you need to learn the lifesaving skills of CPR, AED awareness, and choking relief in about 20 minutes in the comfort of your own home. The self-guided training takes you through the steps – all you need to do is practice.
You can learn more about CPR and where to find training near you at cpr.heart.org.
Make it a goal this summer to train your family in CPR. You never know when it might be needed and whose life it might save.
This post was sponsored by Omron. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
Well, I’ve completed my 90-day journey with the OmronEVOLV blood pressure monitor. Over this time, I’ve had good days and I’ve had bad days; I’ve had good blood pressure readings and I’ve had bad blood pressure readings; but overall, I think things have mostly gone well.
It is comforting to know that if I am “not feeling right” (and if you are also a heart attack or stroke survivor, then you know what I’m talking about) that I can sit on my couch or my bed in the comfort of my own home in the middle of the night and check my blood pressure to see if all my numbers are normal. The monitor is even small enough that I’ve thrown it in my purse and taken it to work on those “not feeling right” days in case I needed to check my blood pressure throughout the day.
Generally, my numbers have been pretty consistent during the past 90 days, but a couple weeks ago, I did have a little scare when I checked my blood pressure one night and the numbers were kind of high compared to my norm. I continued to monitor my numbers throughout the evening, and they only dropped a little bit. I attributed it to a pill I had taken earlier that day and hoped that the numbers would get back to normal over the next day or so, which they did. But it was an alarming thing to see and to get recorded on the Omron Connect app!
My cardiologist has adjusted some of my meds since my last post, so I was interested to see if my blood pressure would be affected by the change. There has not really been a change, but that is one thing that I was looking forward to monitoring with the home monitor! So, I’m glad to have that ability so I can monitor how my body is adjusting to the med changes over the next few weeks.
A change I’ve made with my eating is that I’m now eating a serving of steamed broccoli almost everyday!
If I don’t get broccoli, then I’m making sure to get a side garden salad or some fresh fruit daily.
So I may not be getting all the recommended servings in daily, but I’m definitely getting in more servings over the course of a week than I was before, and that feels great! I’m better about this on the weekends when I have more control over my meals than during the work week when things can get crazy. So, on the weekends I try to do two vegetables and a protein per meal.
I have not purposely increased my steps lately but I did have a couple days last week where I was so busy that I got over 10,000 steps on 2 different days!!! Man, I was exhausted last week!
What successes did you have on your 90 day challenge? Did you make any changes in your daily routine/lifestyle? If so, do you plan to stick to these changes?
And remember Omron’s Going for Zero mission (which I personally think is fantastic) to eliminate heart attacks and strokes through prevention and education. Make sure to check this out and make it your personal mission, too!
I was honored to be invited to a kick-off event for the 2018 Orlando Heart Walk recently with some of the Executive Champions that I shared a billboard with last year for reaching a specified fundraising goal by a designated date to kick-off the 2017 Heart Walk.
This year, that goal has been raised to $5000!!! Not sure if I’ll get to be on a billboard again to help promote the Heart Walk if I reach the goal, but I am definitely going to make every effort to reach EACH OF YOU to raise this money; so start putting aside some dollars now! I will post my team and donation link in a couple weeks to get the fundraising ball going! Everyone was so wonderful and giving in your support of the Heart Walk last year (even if you couldn’t be there to walk), you helped me surpass my goal. I can’t do this without all of you, so who’s with me?!? 🙂
I wanted to put a few things in perspective on this post since it has been 25 years since the Heart Walk started – to show you how far your dollars have come in making a difference over the years.
Take a moment to think about what these signs will read in the next 25 years with even more donations for research for heart disease and stroke! It really puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
During the event, we also celebrated our Heart Walk Ambassador, Zane! He was there with his parents. Zane was a little shy and didn’t want to speak, so his mom shared his story. Here’s his very own sign displayed at the event. What a brave young boy!
And here I will leave you with the mission statement and impact goal (even though it is only 2 years away, not 25).
I hope you found this helpful and are getting as excited about the 2018 Orlando Heart Walk as I am…even if you can’t walk and you can only donate…you are doing something good. Take it from me, a heart attack survivor. Look for upcoming communication from me with additional information on how to donate towards my $5000 goal or to join my team. Every dollar counts!
This post was sponsored by Omron. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
Did you know that May is Stroke Awareness Month? Are you doing anything in your daily routine to manage your risk factors for strokes? Do you know the signs of a stroke? Would you know what to do if someone you work with or a family member was having a stroke?
It’s May, so let’s take some time out of our busy schedules to ask these questions and learn the answers!
First of all, knowing your numbers can always be helpful, and that is why Omron Healthcare makes it so easy for you to monitor your blood pressure in the comfort of your own home with your EVOLV blood pressure monitor. Tracking your numbers in the app on your mobile device can help you monitor your health so you know if you need to make changes or see your doctor if the numbers are trending high or low versus your norm.
By doing your part, remember you are supporting Omron’s mission of Going for Zero, which is the elimination of heart attack and stroke. This is why they are educating the public about the importance of prevention by regular monitoring of one’s blood pressure.
What are you doing in your daily routine to protect yourself against strokes? Below is an infographic that shows you what you can do daily to protect yourself.
I may not go out and exercise daily, but I try and get as many steps in as possible with the walking that I do at work. I also check my blood pressure regularly with my EVOLV blood pressure monitor. I haven’t measured lately, but I hope my body composition is healthy according to this infographic!! (Note to self: buy a measuring tape.) I am constantly managing my diabetes, as I pointed out in my last blog post, and that has been going well! I must admit that I am excited to practice #6…but only in moderation, as it says. lol. You do have to be careful about alcoholic beverages, especially when taking medications. My cardiologist has limited me to two drinks per day, but since becoming a diabetic, I don’t have much craving for alcohol so I rarely drink – maybe an occasional glass of red wine at social functions or with dinner on the weekends.
Do you know the signs of a stroke and what to do if someone around you is having one? Four very important letters to know are F.A.S.T.! Below is an infographic that explains these letters and how to react if someone around you is showing signs of a stroke.
It seems so easy to learn these letters, but I have to admit with as much volunteering that I’ve done since my heart attack for local associations, I’ve seen F.A.S.T. time and time again, and I still have to read the descriptions and reminders. This month, I am making it a point to memorize and learn this acronym as well as I know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack!
What additional steps are you taking this month to become more aware of stroke and stroke prevention during Stroke Awareness Month?
This post was sponsored by Omron. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
I took the “Going for Zero Pledge”, and you can do it, too, by clicking on this link Going for Zero!
What is Going for Zero? It is Omron Healthcare‘s company mission – to eliminate heart attacks and strokes. One way they are doing this is through new heart health technologies like the Omron EVOLV, which is a portable, wireless upper-arm blood pressure monitor.
This device is clinically validated for accuracy and has received FDA clearance. It is a one-piece monitor that fits easily over your upper arm with no tubes, wires, or tabletop unit.
It easily syncs to your smartphone via Bluetooth technology and with the Omron Connect App (free) that stores, tracks, and shares your data. The easier and more convenient it is to record and track your blood pressure, the more people will do it and be aware of their heart health, thus leading to healthier individuals. Therefore eliminating heart attacks and strokes, right!? It’s one step in the right direction for a healthier YOU!
As many of you may already be aware, the American Heart Association announced new guidelines for high blood pressure last fall, which lowered the threshold for hypertension from 140/90 mmHg to 130/80 mmHG. This means that it is even more important now to be aware of your blood pressure, especially if you were at risk of being hypertensive before. What better way to monitor your blood pressure than the comfort of your own home. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I used to get white coat effect anytime I went to a doctor appointment, which caused my blood pressure readings to be high and inaccurate. The reasons for this were that I would have anxiety about my doctor visit, and I would be overwhelmed by the office in general. If you can take the readings in your own home, then you won’t have this issue because you will be doing it at your own time when you are most comfortable. You will get more accurate readings, and you can take them more often so you can keep a record of your readings, which you can then email to a family member, friend, or your doctor.
As a heart attack survivor, I am very aware of my blood pressure and keep track of it regularly because I know how important a healthy reading is. Even though I am on blood pressure medicine since my heart attack, I still keep track of it.
For the next 90 days, I will be reporting back to you to let you know how I’m doing with my new Omron EVOLV blood pressure monitor and any key learnings I find along the way. Please let me know if you take the Going for Zero Pledge! I’d love to hear from you!
As a survivor, I want nothing more than to get everyone as heart healthy as possible so no one has to go through what I went through.
I received the results of my 3rd heart echo. It did not show any fluid around my heart, which the cardiologist was looking for since I’m still getting winded. My ejection fraction has increased from 40-44% to 45-49%!!! My cardiology team is ecstatic that my heart function has improved. Normal range (according to my cardiac nurse) is 55-60+. While I can’t believe it has ONLY increased 5% with all the changes I’ve made and all the cardiac rehab I’ve gone through, the cardiologist thinks this increase is huge…especially considering it was 15-20% after my heart attack. Also, due to the damage that my heart has, it isn’t really expected to get back to normal from what I gather from the doctors. They also say at least we are moving in the positive direction and any increase is great! As for the results of my bloodwork for BNP and BMP, my BNP level was 114. The PA (physician assistant) said that 100 or below is the normal range, but 114 was a good number for me. They don’t start to really worry until the level gets to 300 or greater. Within my BMP, my glucose was 99, which is good, so I shouldn’t be considered pre-diabetic anymore since the last my glucose was measured was in the hospital during all of my drama.
The kicker on this one is that I received a letter from my insurance company saying they will not cover the blood test for BNP because it is determined to be “experimental, investigational or unproven for the diagnosis” submitted with the claim, which is Coronary Atherosclerosis of Native Coronary Artery. Of course, I think this is ridiculous. Thank goodness it was only blood work, but I have NO CLUE what my bill will be!!! If it is a small amount (like under $50) then I don’t have a huge problem with that; but if it’s a large amount, then I will have to appeal their decision, which is allowed. It also says that health care professionals in my insurance network generally can’t bill me for services if they know they are not covered (yet necessary) and they tell me that in advance and I agree to it in writing. No one advised me of such, so I’m wondering if I will get billed. Maybe I will take it up with my doctor first if I do receive a bill. Speaking of…I’m still waiting on a refund from the GI Surgeon for paying for my outpatient procedure in advance when everything was switched to in-patient/hospital stay.
On another positive note, my doctor did say that I can now ride roller coasters and start jogging (I asked about both!). The jogging part is what excites me the most because it’s the only thing that will help me lose weight (I can’t believe I’m not losing weight with all of the changes over the past 3 months). My doctor ordered another heart test, which I’m having done this week. It will be a nuclear stress test while exercising. He said it will help answer all of our questions as to why I’m getting winded when I go up stairs and why I’m having chest pains and tightness. It will take pictures of my heart at rest and under stress to show how my heart is responding. Once the results are back from that, cardiac rehab will let me start jogging (based on the results) so they can monitor me before I start jogging on my own. Ironically, my dad, who now sees my cardiologist, is going for a nuclear stress test (non-exercising) at the same time on the same day but at a different hospital. Cardiac rehab told me that “no news is good news” when I’m waiting on results of the stress test. The unfortunate thing about this stress test is it has a $200 co-pay. Luckily, it’s happening on pay day. Otherwise, not sure how I’d be paying. Medical bills are adding up, and it’s taking a huge toll on my finances and budgeting. Having a heart attack is expensive, people!
MI stands for Myocardial Infarction (scientific name for Heart Attack), so you may hear medical staff refer to it as “MI”. I had my first appointment today with the Heart Clinic. It wasn’t with any of the doctors who saved my life; this was with nurses from the Clinic to follow up and gather all of my information/medical history. This first appointment took a while, but they said it was because they needed to gather so much information at the initial appointment. Everyone was extremely nice and only had great things to say about the cardiologists that worked on me in the hospital. I came in with a list of questions (as usual), but I hardly slept the night before because this appointment was like Christmas to me! I couldn’t wait for this follow-up so I could ask questions that I hadn’t yet asked and talk about side effects, prognosis, etc. They had a lot of questions for me, too. First, they needed to get my medical history, then my family’s medical history (mainly my dad’s and my Uncle Edward’s). Due to my strong family history of heart disease, the clinic will be watching me closely so I don’t have another MI. My dad had a quadruple by-pass (it was an emergency open heart surgery when he went in for a routine appointment) when he was about 53. He is still alive. My Uncle (dad’s older brother by 2 years) had a quadruple by-pass (emergency open heart surgery when he was in surgery for stomach cancer). He had also suffered a heart attack during the surgery for his stomach, which is how they caught his problem. He was about 43. He survived but went on to have another minor heart attack a few years later and then a massive heart attack, which killed him, when he was 60. I believe all of my dad’s siblings and both parents have had open heart surgery (multiple bypasses). Only one Uncle is left (everyone else succumbed to ailments other than heart failure), and as a result of hearing of my “episode” and the symptoms I had leading up to it, decided to pay his doctor a visit the next week because he was having similar symptoms. Turns out, he has a blockage (not an emergency) and will be getting another stent placed next week. I digress…so back to my Heart Clinic visit… I mentioned to the nurses that I had what I thought were heart palpitations 2 days ago, along with a low blood pressure reading (80 something over 50 something). They said that I should have contacted them right away so they could assess the problem. I told them that I also have anxiety and wasn’t sure if it was actual palpitations or the fluttery anxious feeling I get when I’m stressed or nervous (nervous about my health!). They said that palpitations could be brought on by low blood pressure and if it happens again to drink a lot of water (however, I cannot drink more than 2 liters of liquid in a 24 hour period) and to call them. What I didn’t realize, and much to my RELIEF, is that the Clinic is 24 hours – rather, they have a night nurse. So I can call at any time, day or night, and a nurse can assist me…unless I’m having a known emergency and then I should call 911. They would rather treat me as an outpatient rather than put me in the hospital again. I now need to program these #s into my phone. They suggested that I could purchase a sphygmomanometer (fancy word for blood pressure cuff) online that could sync to my iPhone. They also suggested that I get my current one calibrated (I’m using my dad’s) at the fire department as the readings seem to be low. How exciting! I also addressed the allergic reaction to my statin. Last week, I broke out with a rash all over my torso. I’ve never had a rash before. I was told to stop taking my statin and to take Benadryl until my appointment today. The rash has cleared up. Although the nurses today didn’t really think the statin caused me to break out, they have changed my medicine to Crestor* (from Atorvastatin). During the appointment, the nurses were looking through my hospital records and discussed my ultrasound results with me. The ejection fraction of my heart the night of my heart attack was about 15-20%…it should be at least 50%. However, they were missing the results of the 2nd ultrasound that I had 3 days later. Those results showed the ejection fraction to be about 45%, which shows my heart is healing and getting stronger; but it is still not strong enough. The nurse had to call my Cardiologist to get this info, and my Cardiologist asked to say hello to me on the phone! So the nurse handed her cell phone to me so I could speak with my Cardiologist! What great and personalized service! He did remind me that he saved my life and had it not been for him, I would not be alive. I am forever grateful!! He said he would like to see me next week in his office and he’d like for me to have a follow up with the nurses in 3 weeks. This is great! I want to see my doctors as much as possible so we can learn from each other, and so they can take every step to get me healthy again and track my heart’s progress. I asked about exercise to see what I can and can’t do and what I am capable of doing safely. They recommended that I walk for 30 mins everyday. Of course, I can build up to that with 10 mins a day to start. They would like to see me gain my independence back. And on that note, I moved back to my home today (was staying with my parents after the hospital). The nurses did give me homework until the next appointment; and although I’m not in school, I welcomed this homework with open arms! I need to track my blood pressure, heart rate, and weight every single day. This will help them gauge how well my meds are working and how my heart is responding to them. They will also have a dietitian and a pharmacist meet with me on my next appointment so all of my diet and drug interaction questions can be answered. For example, the doctor said I cannot eat dairy or fried foods anymore – does that mean forever?? It is so hard being a pescetarian vegan. I want cheese SO BAD! But let me take this moment to remind myself that CHEESE may be the reason that I had the heart attack!! All in all, the visit to the Heart Clinic was great. I look forward to my next appointment. *Crestor – the new statin they’ve prescribed me – is a brand name drug and was going to cost $48 with my insurance! I paid $66 for all of my cardiac meds combined when I left the hospital! Thankfully, I searched online and found a coupon from Crestor’s website for a free 30 day trial. I took this to the pharmacy. They were not able to process that 30 day free trial (for whatever reason), but they found another coupon for Crestor that brought my co-pay down to $18! I would hate if I paid $48 for this and find out I am allergic to it, too. It pays to do a little research, and it’s great to have a pharmacy that is patient with me. 🙂 I went to the fire department tonight hoping to meet a hot firefighter who could calibrate my blood pressure cuff. Disappointment!!! I was told that fire stations do not calibrate blood pressure cuffs!! However, they were super nice and researched it online and called the cuff company to find out how to get it calibrated. Turns out, it is cheaper for me to just buy a new one. I will look into the ones that sync up to iPhone. I wonder if my insurance will pay for it… I apologize for not making this all so much more inviting and interesting with photos and such, but I just got a new iPhone today, so I will be sure to experiment with the camera function.
On Monday, June 16, I had what I thought was a gall bladder attack. Two weeks earlier, I was diagnosed as having gall stones, so I scheduled an appointment to have my gall bladder removed. (This would be my very first surgery ever, and I was so nervous.) The pain was unbearable. It started out as severe burning in my chest, like heartburn, and engulfed the entire top half of my body. I couldn’t find a position that would make the pain go away. Then I broke out into a sweat and started shaking. I knew something was not right, and fearing for the worst, I contacted a colleague (I was staying in a local hotel for work) who dialed 911. Once the paramedics arrived, most of the pain had gone away. They took my vitals and checked my heart, and they dismissed it as a gall bladder attack. They gave me the choice to go with them in the ambulance or come to the hospital later if I started feeling bad again. I chose not to be transported by ambulance, and the paramedics left. A friend of mine bought some heartburn medicine for me, which I took immediately. However, the pain came back. I concentrated really hard to make the pain go away again, and it did…mostly. I contacted my GI doctor to get seen immediately. I could hardly walk and couldn’t drive, so another colleague drove me to the doctor’s office. There, I was prescribed heartburn medicine, pain medicine, and sent for blood work. I also rescheduled my gall bladder surgery to Friday, June 20 (originally scheduled Wednesday, June 25, due to my work schedule). The pain medicine seemed to help, and by the next morning, I felt I was okay to go into work and just take it easy most of the day. That idea was quickly squashed, as another attack came on mid-morning! This time, the pain was centered to my sternum and had moved to the left. I also had shortness of breath, and it hurt to breathe deeply. I immediately contacted my GI doctor who told me that my blood work had come back with elevated levels of WBCs, therefore, I had an infection. We contacted the GI surgeon to see if he could work me in that day, which he did. My surgery was scheduled for 4:00pm. Before leaving for the outpatient facility, the surgeon contacted me and said he didn’t feel right about sending me to the outpatient facility in case something went wrong – since we already knew there was an infection – so he wanted me to be admitted to the hospital instead. He would do my surgery at 4:00pm and I would spend the night so they could check and make sure all was okay before releasing me the next morning. This would be my first surgery AND my first hospital stay ever! I’m really nervous. I had two of my friends drive me to the hospital to get checked in. My breathing was very shallow and labored. I was weak, didn’t feel well, was in pain, and my eye sight started getting blurry. Once I was in the surgery prep room, I let all of the doctors and nurses know about my painful and shallow breathing. All assured me that wasn’t a problem, and I would be feeling better in no time. I don’t even remember being put to sleep with anesthesia. The only thing I remember next was waking up after the surgery. I was in recovery, and I woke up, very groggy, so someone saying my name, “Kim!” I was then left alone and began to feel excruciating pain in the upper half of both arms. I also felt nauseous. I started to moan and groan and shake my arms and call for someone to please help me that I was nauseous and my arms were hurting really bad. I think I was dozing in and out. Someone asked me how long I’d had a heart problem. I went into fighter mode and became very defensive. I said, “I don’t have a heart problem!” Someone else asked me if I knew I had a heart problem. I said, “I don’t have a problem with my heart! What is going on?” The next thing I knew, people were all around me. I heard whispers of “heart condition” but no one ever told me what was wrong. Then someone started doing an echo of my heart and asking me about my “heart condition”. Again, I exclaimed that nothing was wrong with my heart. I remember a Dr. going around and thanking each person individually for staying late to help me. Then I remember looking up and seeing a priest! “Why is there a priest?!” I yelled out. “Is the priest here for me????!!!” Someone answered that there were normally lots of people around for surgeries. But that made me mad that there was a priest! Was I dying? Did they think I was going to die?? And no one was telling me what was going on? I remember being taken into another surgery. I was afraid they might be cracking my chest for open heart surgery. I asked, “am I going in for another surgery?” “Yes,” was the reply from someone. “Am I having 1 or 2 more surgeries?” I asked. “Hopefully just 1,” someone replied. “Will I need anesthesia?” I asked. “No, you only need a local anesthetic for this procedure,” I heard. And then I was moved to a hard and narrow operating table. I was able to turn my head enough to see the X-ray monitor that showed everything that was going on! I remember seeing my artery…with a large plaque that was broken up…and the balloon and stent being pushed through my artery to that area with the plaque. Unbelievable! I heard someone say there was a blockage. I asked what percentage and was told 80%. And then I started coughing. I coughed so hard, and I was coughing up fluid…so much fluid!! I was almost choking and gagging there was so much fluid that was gushing up through my throat from the coughing!! It tasted so gross. And the next thing I remember is being in ICU with a Cpap on my face and being yelled at to let it breathe for me. But I felt suffocated. Finally, I was able to relax and found my rhythm with this Cpap. All of my family was there. Why? This was a simple gall bladder surgery that went horribly wrong, right? I learned later that I wasn’t expected to survive throughout the first night. The damage to my heart was about 50%. My prognosis was grim. When I was coughing in the OR, it was pulmonary edema, and my lungs were filling with fluid from heart failure!! Heart failure? I had had a heart attack! My medical record is official – Myocardial Infarction! What? I had suffered a massive heart attack in the widow-maker – LAD – a large plaque had burst and collapsed my artery. The doctors were called in and were at my side working on me within 5-7 minutes. The cath lab was 2 doors down. Every minute was critical to saving my life. I was supposed to be at an outpatient facility! I wasn’t even supposed to be in the hospital! The cardiologists did not even practice in the hospital – they were there for a seminar!! The heart attack was completely independent of the gall bladder surgery, so it would have happened no matter where I was at that time on that day. Thankfully, all of the stars were aligned, and I was given a second chance at life… The doctors had lots of questions for me the next day – what were my symptoms, where did it hurt, etc. They say I’m the luckiest person they’ve ever met. This heart attack normally kills people instantly. They said that most of my gall bladder symptoms were most likely heart attack symptoms. Thank goodness I had a bad gall bladder problem to get me to the hospital! With my new lease on life, I must now live a different way, eat a certain way, and exercise a certain way. It has been a life-changing event, and I welcome you to follow me on my journey. xoxo