Friday, March 22, 2013

Stay Healthy During Cancer Treatments

Hello everyone! It has been a while since I have had time to update my blog, but "life" has gotten in the way. I hope to get back to it soon, but in the meantime, please read this wonderful article from guest blogger Melanie Bowen:

Although medical treatment has drastically increased the quality of life of cancer patients, one of the most important forms of supplemental treatment is exercise. Cancer patients should be sure to exercise during all phases of their cancer treatments. Even though exercise will not necessarily cure cancer, it can help the individuals in their daily managing of the disease, and it will help them when their chemotherapy and radiation treatments have cured them. Although mesothelioma is a very aggressive cancer, even people with this disease can also improve their quality of life by exercising.

No one can explain the mix of emotions that every cancer patient exhibits daily. Some will be angry, and others will be depressed; however, one emotion that many cancer patients do not show as often is happiness. However, even though they are going through a difficult time in their lives, exercise will help them to experience a more positive outlook. When patients begin to exercise, their bodies will release certain hormones called endorphins, which will help to improve their mood. Therefore, the depression, anger, and uncertainty will begin to fade away, and more pleasant emotions will result.

Because cancer is such a serious illness, the treatment for it is usually very aggressive. Unfortunately, this aggressive treatment will have many side effects on the body. Patients will experience fatigue, pain throughout their bodies, and weak muscles. Therefore, these patients should be sure to exercise to reduce the negative effects of the treatment. If the patients exercise, they will be able to gain more energy, and this energy can be used to help them continue to do the daily activities that they have been accustomed to doing. Furthermore, if the patients lift light weights, they can strengthen their muscles without increasing their fatigue. Once their muscles are stronger, their bodies will be able to better handle the treatment.

Eventually, the cancer treatments will hopefully allow the patient’s cancer to go into remission. During this time, the patient should still continue to exercise. This exercise should still be a combination of cardio and strength training. By exercising, the body’s immune system will begin to strengthen from the weak state it was in during the treatments. As a result, the immune system will have a better chance of guarding the body against foreign pathogens that may try to invade it.

Since each person’s body will react differently to exercise, patients should talk with their doctors before they begin their daily exercise routines.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Dangers of Undiagnosed High Blood Pressure

When I went to the doctor recently for my yearly physical I was very happy to hear that I am in excellent health. One of the best results I was given was my blood pressure reading which was in the normal range at 105/70. A new government report indicates that even though many people in the U.S. who suffer from hypertension are receiving medical attention, more than half actually don't have it under control.  The Center for Disease Control report indicates that over 67 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure. However, approximately 36 million don't have their condition under control. In addition, over 22 million adults who don't have their hypertension under control are fully aware they have the condition, and 16 million are on medications to control it, yet their condition is still not under control. The numbers are daunting, but they can be improved. High blood pressure is dangerous because it can lead to heart disease and other organ failure. There are monitors you can purchase at your local drug store that are highly accurate. These will help you keep track of your readings and will help you report results to your doctor for future visits.

Risk factors of high bp include:
  • Being physically inactive
  • Being overweight
  • High salt intake
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Age/Race
  • Insufficient vitamin D and potassium
  • High alcohol intake
  • Insomnia
Blood pressure is recorded in 2 numbers written in the form of a ratio. The following information is provided by the American Heart Association and can be used as a guide for you to go by:

The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).
The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).

Blood Pressure
mm Hg (upper #)
mm Hg (lower #)
Normalless than 120andless than 80
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2
160 or higheror100 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed)
Higher than 180orHigher than 110
* Your doctor should evaluate unusually low blood pressure readings.

It's important that you take charge of your health. There are many foods, especially fruits and vegetables that are high in the vitamins and minerals essential to keeping your blood pressure down. Educate yourself and see the doctor if necessary, but do what you must to improve your health.
Stay happy and healthy everyone!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Avoid Getting West Nile Virus

On a recent evening I was sitting on my beautiful, newly built deck with my sister and best friend gingerly passing the time laughing and having our usual girl talk. We were not outside more than 10 minutes before the mosquitoes starting hovering around. I am not usually prone to getting bitten, but I cannot say the same for my sister. Her body is like a magnet when it comes to those nasty, little creatures. Lately there has been much talk in the news about the dangers of West Nile and how it can be passed on to you by just one mosquito bite. I hear this and and want to use it as an excuse to skip my evening power walks, but I know I shouldn't let it stop me. I do inform myself though on what to do to avoid becoming a victim. It's important to remember to protect ourselves especially when we are outdoors and especially in the evening when it seems they are most rampant. As of today according to the national news there have been 41 deaths. More than half of them are accounted for here in Texas. According to the Center for Disease Control  we should abide by the 4 D's which are:
  • DEET and other insect repellents should be used.
  • DRESS in long sleeves and long pants.
  • DUSK & DAWN is when most mosquitoes are out so dress accordingly and take precautions.
  • DRAIN standing water.
It's important to keep our guard up, but it's also important to keep things in perspective. Most mosquitoes do not carry West Nile. According to the CDC 80% of people who get bitten don't get sick, 20% suffer only mild symptoms and only 1 person out 150 suffer severe illness. With that being said folks I am not going to let it stop me from enjoying my usual evening activities, but you can bet I will be looking for my can of mosquito repellent! Have a happy and healthy day everyone!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Symptoms and Prevention of Heart Attacks

Hello everyone! Forgive me for not checking in with you in a while. I have been involved in a new "old home" project that has finally been completed. When the news hit the airwaves this morning that comedian Rosie O'Donnell recently suffered a major heart attack it got me to thinking about how important it is at our age to be totally aware of the signs and symptoms that we should be on the lookout for. I don't know about you but there have been many times that I have overworked myself to the point of exhaustion and have secretly wondered if I might be pushing myself too hard and in doing so risking a health crisis.  Rosie stated that when she started feeling ill she immediately took an aspirin because she heard in a commercial that it was a good idea to do so at the onset of symptoms. While this is good advice, we need to remember that it is important to listen to our bodies all the time. Waiting until we feel chest pains might be a little too late to take action. Very often, as women we do not want to be perceived as being hysterical , so we  minimize seeking medical attention when we start feeling ill. When women finally do seek medical attention, often times the doctor will dismiss the patient by attributing the symptoms to anxiety, stress or indigestion.
Warning signs women should never ignore:
If you are experiencing any of the following listed symptoms it is important for you to seek emergency care immediately. Also, go ahead and take an aspirin to help keep a blood clot from getting bigger.
When a heart attack strikes, getting medical help within the first hour reduces the risk of dying by 50 percent. If you have any of these warning signs, call 911.
    • Shortness of breath. During a heart attack, or in some cases, days or even weeks preceding the attack, many women report gasping as if they’d just run a marathon or having trouble talking, one study reported.
    • Non-chest pain. Instead of an explosive pain in the chest, women may develop less severe pain in the upper back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or arm. Get immediate medical help if you have any unusual symptom above the waist, even if it’s not in your chest.
    • Unusual fatigue. In one study of female heart attack survivors, 71 percent experienced unusual fatigue in the days and weeks before the attack—often so extreme that the women were too fatigued to make their bed, lift a laptop, or walk to the mailbox.
    • Heavy sweating. Women may be suddenly drenched with sweat for no apparent reason. Frequently, women feel both hot and chilled, with clammy skin, during a heart attack, as happened to O’Donnell.
    • Nausea or dizziness. During an attack, women frequently vomit or feel like they’re going to faint. The nausea can also feel like heartburn.
    • Anxiety. Many women experience a feeling of impending doom or intense fear before or during a heart attack. Heeding that inner warning can be lifesaving.
Tips to prevent a heart attack include the following:
  • Don't smoke!
  • Keep your weight in check. If you are overweight, losing as little as 10-20 pounds can help lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Exercise regularly. In addition to helping control your weight, exercise can help lower your blood pressure, relieve stress and tone the heart and blood vessels.
  • Learn how to manage your stress and anxiety levels.
  • Follow a heart-healthy diet. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid salty foods and foods high in cholesterol and fat.
  • Have a yearly physical to get your numbers checked, especially your cholesterol and blood pressure readings.
Remember everyone, healthy living over 50 is in our best interest. Life is just beginning for us!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Accidents Happen in a Blink of an Eye!

Hello everyone! It has been a couple of weeks since I have posted and I felt I needed to explain. Last weekend my sister and I decided to visit our other sister out of town for a girl's weekend. No sooner had we gotten there than the sister that went with me suffered a bad fall and shattered her wrist! It is shocking to me how in a blink of an eye your health can change drastically.  We rushed her to the emergency room of one hospital only to be told it would be over seven hours before she would be attended. We immediately ran her over to another hospital and thank goodness they were able to take her in right away. She ended up needing surgery to set the bones. After the doctor inserted a plate and 11 pins into her arm and after she spent an entire week there she was able to come home. This is why at our age we must be super careful no matter what activity we are engaged in. My sister was doing nothing but walking and just happened to trip on an uneven surface which is proof positive it doesn't take much for an accident to happen. I thought I would share this incident with you because things could change on a dime and it's up to all of us to do our best to avoid anything that might cause us harm. Have a wonderful and healthy week everyone!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fantastic Antioxidant Filled Dinner

Hello everyone! Hope you all are having a wonderful Tuesday. I wanted to share with you a photo of a super nutritious dinner I made last night. I chopped 1/2 sweet potato, added 1 small zucchini, sliced green bell pepper and long slices of fresh jalapeno pepper (remove seeds) and grilled all of it on top of the stove with olive oil for about 15 minutes. Then I sliced a small tomato and topped it with chopped basil leaves and low fat feta cheese. Super fast and super filling!

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Benefits of Walking

Happy Monday everyone!
When I started this blog I decided I was going to get more focused than ever on exercise and healthy living. I decided that a step towards accomplishing this was that I would start walking routinely either on the treadmill at the gym or outdoors before the sun gets too hot. Regardless, walking is fun, easy and requires no money to do which is why it is a great way to get exercise and get fit. First of all walking is easy to do as long as you do not have health obstacles such as arthritis. There is no great trick to doing it. It does not require that you learn any special skills or advanced conditioning. You do not need any special equipment or clothing. All you really need is a pair of good walking shoes and comfortable clothes.

Walking is the ultimate healthy exercise because it:
  • burns almost as many calories as jogging
  • eases back pains
  • slims your waist
  • lowers blood pressure
  • reduces levels of bad cholesterol
  • reduces heart attack risks and enhances stamina and energy
  • lessens anxiety and tension
  • improves muscle tone
  • it's easy on your heart and joints than running
  • reduces appetite
  • increases aerobic lung capacity
  • can be done in short bouts
  • slows down osteoporosis and bone loss
  • can be done while you are traveling away from home
  • you are less likely to be injured walking instead of running 
It is important for you to be evaluated by a doctor before you begin any exercise program and that you get a complete physical. Also, please remember to stay hydrated. It is important for you to drink plenty of water while you walk and even before and after. Eating well is also just as important. You must eat nourishing food so avoid junk food which is high in fat and cholesterol.  Remember to walk on a smooth surface so that you avoid injuries. I love walking all over my small community but I try to stick to the sidewalks to avoid traffic. You might do well by setting a goal for yourself and to walk at the same time every day, but it is not necessary if your schedule does not allow it. I notice that if I have a routine I tend to stick with it more. Do your best to find time for walking, you will be so glad you did!
Have a happy, healthy week everyone!