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Staying safe during summer vacations: 5 tips for traveling with health conditions

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(Family Features) From staycations and road trips to Caribbean getaways and coastal cruises, summertime offers the chance to escape and unwind with a much needed (and deserved) vacation. However, for people living with health conditions like heart disease or stroke, leaving home can pose special challenges.

As travel season takes shape, the experts at the American Heart Association – celebrating 100 years of lifesaving service as the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all – recommends a few important tips to ease on-the-go woes.

“As we look forward to summer, many people will be traveling to spend treasured time with family and friends, or maybe just to enjoy some relaxation on the beach,” said Gladys Velarde, M.D., FAHA, professor of medicine and national volunteer with the American Heart Association. “It’s not always that simple for people who have chronic health conditions that require multiple medications or special medical equipment. There are also considerations for how to maintain your health and not put yourself at increased risk.”

Velarde said that doesn’t mean travel is off limits if you have a chronic health condition. A little planning and preparation can reduce stress and prepare you for your next big adventure.

Check In with Your Health Care Provider
Speak with your primary care physician or specialist about your travel plans and any special considerations related to your health. He or she can offer guidance on any restrictions or precautions you should keep in mind. Carry a list of all medications, including dosages and pharmacy information. Also consider carrying a copy of key medical records and a list of phone numbers, including your doctors and emergency contacts.

Manage Your Medications
Ensure medications are clearly labeled and that you’ve packed enough to last the entire trip. If you’re traveling across time zones, enlist your health care provider to help adjust medication schedules. Some medications require refrigeration; research how to pack them appropriately for airport security and make sure you’ll have a refrigerator in your lodging.

Plan for Transportation
Whether you’re traveling by plane, bus, train, cruise ship or other means, it’s paramount to plan ahead for special medical equipment. For example, if you use a wheelchair, walker or other assistance for getting around, you may need to check in with the travel company to find out how to properly transport your devices.

Master the Airport
During this especially busy travel season, planning ahead can make the airport experience easier. If you have a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, you may need to go through a special security screening. Walking through a crowded terminal can take its toll, so consider requesting a wheelchair or courtesy cart to get to your gate when booking your ticket.

Long flights may increase your risk for blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Consider wearing compression socks and walk around the cabin while it’s safe and allowed to help improve your circulation.

Know the Signs
While it’s always important to know the signs of heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest, it’s particularly critical while away from home. If you or someone you’re with experience symptoms, call 911. Many airports even offer kiosks where you can learn Hands-Only CPR while waiting for your flight.

“Every individual’s condition is unique, and you’ll want to tailor your travel plans to your specific needs,” Velarde said. “By taking a little time now to plan and prepare, your vacation can be just what the doctor ordered to help you unwind and recharge.”

Learn more about healthy traveling at Heart.org.

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SOURCE:
American Heart Association

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Stay safe, healthy during and after emergencies

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4 tips to prepare for natural disasters that can negatively impact physical and mental health

(Family Features) As you’re making your emergency preparedness checklist, it’s also important to protect your heart and overall health in the wake of a hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster.

The experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict an above-average Atlantic Ocean hurricane season for the seventh year in a row. Research shows it’s not only physical devastation that impacts the health and safety of people in the path of a natural disaster.

In fact, in a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2021 Scientific Sessions, researchers found there were higher rates of high blood pressure, obesity and pre-diabetes among survivors of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017, as well as increased incidences of heart disease and stroke two years after the storm compared to two years prior to the hurricane.

It’s not only hurricanes that can have a negative impact on cardiovascular health. A study published in the journal “Hypertension found a significant increase in blood pressure levels and the incidence of high blood pressure among people who were forced to evacuate following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2012.

Gustavo E. Flores, M.D., a member of the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care committee, said there are several factors that may lead to increased cardiovascular disease and risk after a natural disaster.

“During and after a storm, many people experience extreme stress and trauma, which research shows can lead to an increase in cardiovascular disease risk,” he said. “The impact can be more intense for heart disease and stroke patients. Additionally, in the aftermath of a significant natural disaster, property destruction and evacuations affect many basic support resources. This can make it challenging to see a health care professional for routine check-ups or refill or adjust medications, especially for more vulnerable populations.”

Flores, chairman and chief instructor for Emergency & Critical Care Trainings, LLC, said it’s important for people to be prepared and plan ahead. Consider these quick tips from Flores and the American Heart Association, which is celebrating 100 years of lifesaving service as the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all:

  • Take time to write down any medical conditions, allergies and medications, including doses and the time you take medications, along with your pharmacy name, address and phone number. Keep the information with any other “go-kit” items you have handy for quick evacuation.
  • If you need to evacuate, even temporarily, bring your medications and health information with you in a resealable plastic bag to help keep it dry.
  • If your medication is lost, damaged by water or was left behind when you evacuated, research open pharmacies and seek a refill as quickly as possible. Some states allow pharmacists to make medically necessary exceptions on certain types of prescription refills during an emergency.
  • Use the Patient Preparedness Plan if you have diabetes and use insulin. There you’ll find a checklist of supplies and guidelines to prepare for an emergency.

Another way to prepare for a possible medical emergency is to learn how to perform hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an automated external defibrillator until help arrives. If performed correctly, CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

Visit Heart.org for the latest on heart health and the Disaster Resources page for a wide range of helpful information.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
American Heart Association

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Nurturing the mental health of young children

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(Family Features) The earliest years of children’s lives lay the foundation for their social and emotional well-being, setting the stage for success in school and beyond. For parents, caregivers and educators, it’s crucial to prioritize and nurture the mental health of children in their care.

Dr. Lauren Loquasto, senior vice president and chief academic officer at The Goddard School, and Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School’s Educational Advisory Board, share this insight and guidance to support children’s mental well-being.

Understanding Mental Health in Young Children
Mental health influences how everyone – including young children – thinks, feels and behaves, impacting the ability to cope with stress, build relationships and navigate life.

The development of mental makeup is influenced by both nature (inherited genetic and biological factors) and nurture (environmental factors). Each person is a combination of a unique temperament combined with life experiences, including family, culture and education.

In young children, there is no distinction between mental and physical health. The brain and body are growing and developing rapidly. By 6 months, children can begin to feel overwhelmed by negative experiences. It’s vital to understand that the earliest interactions with children can have lasting social and emotional consequences.

Causes for Concern
When it comes to young children’s mental health, there’s no straight line dividing expected and worrisome behaviors. That line is wiggly and can shift. That said, it’s always concerning when children fall off their developmental tracks.

Infants are expected to partake in “serve and return” activities. They provide signals about how they feel or what they need and caregivers respond to those cues. When those signals stop and the child becomes exceedingly passive, that’s a concern.

Toddler troubles are among the most difficult to diagnose. Many are familiar with the concept of the “terrible twos;” deciphering between developmentally appropriate and worrisome behaviors can be challenging. Signs of concern – especially if they occur constantly – include excessive aggressiveness, a consistent lack of control and screaming instead of talking.

For pre-kindergarteners and kindergarteners, tantrums should be over. They should be interested in making friends and mastering their vocabulary and language. If they aren’t displaying interests or are exhibiting a lack of self-regulation, such as hurting others or animals, seeking help is appropriate.

Seeking Help
If concerns are identified, parents should contact their pediatric care provider. In some cases, they may recommend seeking assistance from a mental health provider, such as a therapist. Selecting the right provider – one with training and experience with working with children – is essential. Lean on your network, including your pediatric care provider, friends and family, to identify the best option.

Supporting Early Social and Emotional Development

  1. Understand your child’s behavior – particularly if they aren’t verbal – is their way of communicating. Narrate what your child is experiencing and label emotions. For example, “I see you’re angry. Can I help you put your shoes on?”
     
  2. Model social and emotional self-control. For example, “I’m frustrated. I’m going to pause, take deep breaths then tell you what I need.” This gives children coping techniques they can practice themselves.
     
  3. Be a good example. Model, for instance, how to be a good friend, show respect and use good manners.
     
  4. Partner with your child’s teachers. There should be two-way dialogue presenting potential concerns.
     
  5. Don’t rush to diagnose issues. Remember children save their “toxic waste” – big, negative feelings – for their parents because they trust them. Your experiences with your child may be different than others’ experiences. Be cautious to avoid a quick reaction. Work to understand what your child is trying to convey. Seek information from others.
     
  6. If a child is exhibiting anxious behavior, which is normal when encountering new situations, be present, listen, observe, answer questions, label emotions and provide reassurance. Don’t overreact to fears. Young children are learning to deal with the unknown and, just like learning to ride a bike, it takes time and comfort to develop the skills to manage those emotions.

To watch a webinar featuring Loquasto and Pruett providing additional guidance, and access actionable parenting insights and resources, visit the Parent Resource Center at GoddardSchool.com.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
The Goddard School

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Tips for summer water safety

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(Family Features) Drowning is a leading cause of death for children ages 1-4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the summer months, when water activities are more prevalent, drowning is more common, according to the National Safety Council.

Extreme heat may increase incidents of cardiac arrest and an average of 33 drownings occur in the U.S. each day, one-third of which are fatal. To protect your loved ones when playing in and around water this summer, keep these tips from the American Heart Association in mind:

Never swim alone. Children always need supervision, but even adults should swim with a buddy so someone can call for help if an unexpected problem arises. Swimmers can get cramps that hinder movement in the water and slips and falls can happen to anyone.

Wear protective devices. U.S. Coast-Guard-approved life jackets provide the best protection for someone who is in the water and unable to safely reach solid footing. When on a boat, all passengers should wear life jackets in case of an accident, and young and inexperienced swimmers should wear one any time they’re near water.

Choose your swimming location wisely. Avoid unknown bodies of water where hazards such as tree limbs or rocks may be hidden below the surface. Also avoid waterways with strong currents, such as rivers, that can easily carry even the strongest swimmers away. Instead, choose swimming pools and locations with trained lifeguards on duty.

Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In the event of a drowning, no matter the age, the American Heart Association recommends rescue breaths along with chest compressions to keep oxygen circulating to the brain. Only 39% of those who participated in a consumer survey said they are familiar with conventional CPR and only 23% know about Hands-Only CPR.

Consider these ways to learn CPR and join the Nation of Lifesavers as an individual, family, organization or community.

  • Watch online. Learn the basics of Hands-Only CPR by watching an instructional video online. Hands-Only CPR has just two simple steps:
    1. Call 911 if you see someone suddenly collapse.
    2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of a familiar song with 100-120 beats per minute, such as “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.
       
  • Immerse yourself. Through a virtual reality app, you can learn how to perform Hands-Only CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED) then put your skills to the test in real-life scenarios.
     
  • Learn at home. Learn basic lifesaving skills in about 20 minutes from the comfort and privacy of home with CPR Anytime kits. The Infant CPR Anytime program is for new parents, grandparents, babysitters, nannies and anyone who wants to learn lifesaving infant CPR and choking relief skills. The Adult & Child CPR Anytime Training kit teaches adults and teens Hands-Only CPR, child CPR with breaths, adult and child choking relief and general awareness of AEDs.
     
  • Take a course. Get a group together and find a nearby class to learn the lifesaving skills of CPR, first aid and AED.
     
  • Turn employees into lifesavers. Help make your workplace and community safer one step at a time by committing to CPR training for your employees or coworkers.

Visit heart.org/nation to access more summer safety resources and find a CPR course near you.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock


SOURCE:
American Heart Association

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