Heart disease is called the silent killer, and it's a huge health risk for men.

According to the American Heart Association, more than a third of adult men are living with heart disease. This may be because men have increased risk factors for heart disease, including high-stress jobs and lifestyle factors such as excessive drinking, smoking and physical inactivity.

But the symptoms of heart disease are subtle, so how can you tell if you have heart disease, before you have a major cardiac event?

You may notice, and brush off, early signs, such as:

  • Shortness of breath, even after mild activity
  • Tightness in your chest
  • Discomfort in your neck or jaw
  • Tingling in your arm or fingers, particularly on the left side

These symptoms are often caused by poor circulation thanks to plaque build-up that narrows the blood vessels.

If you've ever experienced these symptoms, talk with your doctor about a heart health evaluation. He or she can also give you tips to improve your heart health, including:

  • Limiting your alcohol intake
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing stress
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat

Signs of a Heart Attack in Men
You've seen heart attacks portrayed on television in scenes where men clutch at their chests in pain. That's because the number one sign of a heart attack in men is sharp chest pain or squeezing pressure.
Other signs of heart attack include:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Back, abdominal or jaw pain
  • Shortness of breath

If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately, even if you're not sure. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Heart disease is often thought of as a "man's" disease. But the reality is that more than 42 million American women are living with heart disease. In fact, heart disease is now the number one cause of death among women, and more than half a million will die this year because of it.

The symptoms for heart disease in women can differ from those that present in men. These symptoms include:

  • Irregular heartbeat characterized by a "fluttering" feeling
  • Racing or slow heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting
  • Tingling in the extremities 

Women can also experience shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling of the legs and ankles.

How can you tell if you have heart disease?
Talk to your doctor about a complete heart health physical. This may include blood tests, exercise tests, and electrocardiogram (EKG). Your doctor will also work with you to pinpoint your risk factors for heart disease.

Common risk factors for heart disease in women include:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Depression
  • Post-menopausal estrogen deficiency 

Once you've recognized your risk factors, you can adjust your lifestyle to reduce them.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women
The symptoms of heart attack in women can be similar to those men experience, including chest pain and shortness of breath, but there hard-to-recognize symptoms you need to be aware of.

Pain in areas other than the chest. In some women, a heart attack can present with pressure, tightness or burning in the neck, jaw and upper back.
Extreme fatigue. If you feel more tired than usual, even if you've not been active, it could be due to a blockage that's preventing blood from getting to your heart.
Extreme hot flash. Sudden feverish symptoms and profuse sweating could be indicative of a heart attack, especially if other symptoms are present.

If you're ever having any of these symptoms, especially together, call 911 immediately and tell the dispatcher you think you're having a heart attack. Don't wait until the feelings pass, don't google the symptoms, and don't feel embarrassed.

If you've been to the emergency room lately for an illness, you know the wait can take hours, depending on how busy they are and what treatment you may need. A patient waiting in a typical Emergency Department would have time to watch more than four one-hour long episodes of the iconic television show "Grey's Anatomy". Reducing the time patients remain in the Emergency Department is a constant challenge that all hospitals face.

You may feel as though you are spending a long amount of time in the Emergency Department. However, it is important to understand there are many steps that need to be taken during your visit to ensure you receive the best care. Before visiting the emergency room ask yourself if this is a true emergency. If you are alarmed by unusually severe symptoms, it is best to seek immediate care. In case of an emergency, dial 911. When possible, call your primary care physician and describe your symptoms to find out whether emergency treatment is necessary or if you need to be scheduled for a visit to their office.

After arrival in the emergency room you will be triaged by an emergency nurse. Triage is a system of sorting that is based on giving treatment first to the patients who need of it most. Patients are not seen on a first-come, first-served basis. When you are brought into to the Emergency Department, a skilled triage nurse will start by conducting a brief exam. Based on this assessment, the nurse will decide what immediate steps should be taken. Patients who arrive by ambulances or with life-threatening conditions are generally seen right away, depending upon their condition and stability. As a result, you may not be taken to a treatment area in the order that you arrived.

Once a patient is placed in a treatment room, an emergency care provider will complete a thorough examination. Clinical tests such as blood work, X-rays, a CT scan or an ultrasound may need to be ordered. These testing procedures will take time and the patient will need to wait for the results before their physician can make a decision about proper treatment. Any time further testing is added, your wait time will increase.

Once testing is complete, a chance of further waiting happens as the physician contacts the patient's primary care physician and/or any specialists required to determine if the patient can be discharged or should be admitted to the hospital. After the decision has been made to admit a patient to the hospital, a short wait may occur due to bed availability, patient census, or additional factors.

Wait times are critical to patients' perceptions because the emergency room is often the "front door" to the hospital, the only threshold through which many patients will ever pass. Patients are paying ever more attention to waits, even shopping around to see where they can be treated the fastest. Southeastern Med's Emergency Department is making improvements to patient wait time. On average, a patient visiting Southeastern Med's Emergency Department will be seen, treated and on their way home in around 127 minutes. This is slightly better than the national average of 128 minutes and the state average which is 134 minutes. "It's a great number but we've always got room to improve. Our hospital's put a lot of practices in place to make sure that we get the patient to see the doctor as quickly as possible," stated Ray Chorey, President and CEO.

One of the largest changes came this past year as Southeastern Med hired a new Emergency Department physician group, Emergency Consultants Inc. (ECI) due to their reputation and high commitment to patient care. The Emergency Department physicians are hired as a group and work with Southeastern Med employees to provide patients with exceptional healthcare. ECI, lead by Anthony M. Kitchen, M.D., have been working together to revamp the Emergency Department. Dr. Kitchen has been working with Southeastern Med associates and administration to make changes that are already improving experiences when visiting the Emergency Department. This includes procedures on when higher volumes of patients visit the ED and ways to decrease 'door to doc' times.

When choosing where to receive care when an emergency occurs, know that your health is important to us at Southeastern Med. We are committed to providing you with a positive patient experience, whatever your need may be. We hope that you'll never need our emergency care services, but, if you do, please know that you're in good hands at Southeastern Med. Learn more about our Emergency Mepartment here.

sleep tipsAre you having trouble sleeping? These tips will help you get back on track.

  1. Put away your electronic screens about an hour before bedtime. The bright lights of the screens suppresses melatonin production, which controls your sleep and wake cycles.
  2. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every day.
  3. Create an ideal sleeping environment – dark and cool, perhaps with some white noise like a fan or ocean sounds.
  4. Use nicotine, alcohol and caffeine in moderation. They can all inhibit your ability to get a good night's sleep.
  5. Get moving. The more active your body is on a daily basis, the more tired your body will be at the end of the day. Regular exercise can also help you fall asleep faster and get a more quality sleep.
  6. De-stress. For some, that means meditation or a quiet lavender bubble bath. For others, it means staying organized. If your stress or anxiety is affecting your sleep, talk with your physician about a solution.

If these tips don't help you get better sleep more often, you might benefit from a sleep study. Call our Sleep Medicine Center at 740.439.8000.

aspirin therapyShould you be taking a daily aspirin? It can help protect your heart, especially if you've already had or are at risk for a heart attack or a stroke.

How does aspirin therapy work?
Aspirin affects your body's clotting response, preventing clots from forming and decreasing your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

Aspirin is also an anti-inflammatory, and it fights the inflammation associated with heart disease.

Aspirin can also reduce the risk of death if taken during a heart attack, but if you think you're having a heart attack, reach for the phone and call 911 before you reach for the medicine cabinet.

Do not begin aspirin therapy without consulting your physician. Your doctor is the best person to determine if you should be taking a daily aspirin, and in what dosage.

Who should take a daily aspirin?
People with coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis, or other risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a history of smoking, may benefit from a low-dose daily aspirin regimen.

You doctor may also suggest taking a daily aspirin if you have previously had a heart attack or a stroke.

Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) can increase your risk for developing a blood clot, so check with your physician to see aspirin therapy is right for you.

What are the risks of aspirin therapy?
Like any medical treatment, there are risks associated with aspirin therapy. Don't take aspirin if you have an allergy or intolerance, you're at risk for bleeding, or you're on blood-thinning medication such as warfarin (Coumadin).

Prolonged aspirin use can cause damage to the stomach. Alcohol increases this risk, so be honest with your doctor about your alcohol intake.

brussels-sprouts-gratin-ck-xWhen it comes to a holiday dinner, it doesn't matter whether the main course is turkey, ham or roast beef. The best holiday spreads are all about the side dishes. Creamy mashed potatoes are a must-have, in moderation, but we recommend balancing your traditional offerings with some tasty vegetables.   

We tested this recipe for Brussels Sprout Gratin last week, and it's a winner. Even if you don't think you like Brussels sprouts, give it a try. There's bacon in it, after all.

Brussels sprouts are in season, so you'll be able to find quality sprouts at any grocery store. Choose small, firm sprouts for the best flavor. To prep your sprouts, rinse them under cold water and remove any wilted leaves on the outside of the sprout. Then, trim the stem, leaving just enough to keep it together, and cut the sprouts in half along the stem as they appear in the photo.

We garnished the completed dish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to add the little touch of acid needed to round out the flavor. You could also try a drizzle of quality balsamic vinegar.

Even with the buttery breadcrumbs, each 3/4 cup serving has only 133 calories and less than six grams of fat.

What's your favorite healthy holiday side dish?

Kids have no fear. It's part of what makes young people such great athletes. They're not afraid to slide into home plate, make a game winning tackle, or execute a daring tumbling combination, and their young bodies can play for hours without fatigue.

Perhaps that's why, according to the CDC, more than 2.5 million children and adolescents are treated for sports injuries every year in emergency departments across the country.

Sports injury refers to any injury sustained while playing sports, but we're primarily concerned with those injuries that affect the musculoskeletal system, which include the muscles, bones and surrounding cartilage. Safe Kids Worldwide reports that 1.35 million youth sustained serious sports injuries in 2012.

Most Common Youth Sports Injuries  
Strains / Sprains 451,480
Fracture 249,500
Bruises / Scrapes 210,640
Concussions 163,670
Other 141,330
Cuts 85,560
Dislocation 33,300

Southeastern Med's Dr. Robert Huff, D.O. says that the best way to avoid most sports injuries is through proper training, conditioning and warm up. But when it comes to preventing serious youth sports injuries, like concussions and broken bones, proper equipment use and well-regulated play are key.

Show your athletes how to use their protective equipment properly, make sure it's in good condition before a sporting event begins, and ensure they use it the right way, every time they play.

Teach your athletes the rules of the game and the choreography of the sport. Football players should learn how to deliver a proper tackle, and how to take one. Gymnasts should learn how to protect their joints in a landing or a fall.

Talk to your athletes about anatomy, too. Help them understand how their bodies work mechanically, and they may be better equipped to adjust their form to reduce fatigue and prevent injury.

Coach your players to be aware of their bodies and recognize the early onset of an injury. Small injuries can compound to become serious injuries, but if a player knows she's strained her ankle, for example, she'll know to take herself off the field before she tears a ligament.

Finally, parents and coaches need to reflect on the fact that these young athletes are just that – young. Their bodies need time to rest and recuperate, even if they want to continue playing.

Riskiest Sports 
10. Track & Field
9. Gymnastics
8. Cheerleading
7. Wrestling
6. Volleyball
5. Softball
4. Baseball
3. Soccer
2. Basketball
1. Football

What to Do in the Event of a Sports Injury

If your child or player sustains an injury during practice or a sporting event, follow these steps to ensure the injury is treated promptly and properly.

Sprains and strains will usually resolve with rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE). If the injury swells severely, there is numbness in any of the associated extremities (fingers, toes), or the child can't bear any weight on the injury, seek medical attention immediately.

For other injuries, especially a knock on the head,

  • Take the athlete out of play and don't attempt to assess the injury yourself.
  • Consult the team physician or take the child to the emergency room for evaluation.
  • Follow the doctor's recommendation for treatment and rehabilitation.
  • See the physician again, after treatment and rehabilitation have been completed, before the child returns to practice or play.

VERILAST knee technology outperforms traditional replacement implants

Traditional knee replacements can last for 10 to 15 years under normal use conditions, but the implant can break down over time, meaning patients will require a second surgery to maintain their comfort and mobility.

As an increasing number of young, active patients are experiencing the need for knee replacement, we looked for knee replacement technology engineered for endurance. We found the LEGION™ Cruciate Retaining Knee made with VERILAST™ Knee Technology – a high-performance knee replacement tested to simulate 30 years of activity.

In rigorous lab testing, the LEGION™ knee replacement device took 45 million steps to simulate 30 years of movement. After five million steps, it experienced only two percent of the wear a traditional knee replacement would experience in about three years' time. In 30 years of simulated activity, it outperformed traditional knee replacements by 81%.

If you're considering a total knee replacement, talk to your physician about the LEGION™ Cruciate Retaining Knee made with VERILAST™ Knee Technology to see if it's right for you.

breast-exam-blue-1225Breast self-exams are the best way for women to familiarize themselves with their breasts and spot any changes that may be cause for concern.

Changes to look for include:

  • lumps or areas of hard tissue in the breast or near the underarm lymph nodes
  • darkening of the skin
  • unusual swelling or distortions
  • nipple discharge unassociated with pregnancy or lactation
  • nipple inversion
  • painful or tender areas
  • skin changes such as a rash or scaliness

Here's how you can perform a breast self-exam at home.

Pick a day, such as the first Tuesday of the month, to perform your breast self-exam. Mark it on your calendar or create an appointment in your smart phone to remind yourself to do this every month.

breast-exam-blue-2

Step 1: Stand topless in front of a mirror and look at your breasts.
Look for any changes in size, shape or color. Is there any swelling or darkening of the skin?

Step 2: Still standing topless in front of a mirror, raise your arms above your head.
Look for the same changes as noted in Step 1. Squeeze the nipples slightly. Are there any watery, milky or bloody fluids present?

breast-exam-blue-4Step 3: Stand and raise one arm above your head.
You may find this step easier to perform in the shower.

With the opposite hand, palpate the breast on the side of your raised arm. Use the pads of your fingers and keep them flat against the skin. Press against the breast using light, medium, then heavy pressure in a small circular motion, feeling for any lumps or bumps. Be sure to check the whole breast from top to bottom and side to side.

Repeat with the opposite hand and opposite breast.

breast-exam-blue-3Step 4: Lie flat on your back.
Raise one arm above your head and repeat the technique noted in Step 3. You may find it easiest to work in a circular pattern or in an up-and-down pattern to check the whole breast. Check each part of the breast using light pressure, then medium pressure, and finally heavy pressure.

You should also palpate the underarm and the upper chest areas to check for lumps or hard nodules.

If you've never performed a breast self-exam, talk to your physician about what you should expect to feel, and what any abnormalities may feel like.

Are you having trouble finding health insurance that fits your needs and your budget? Once again members of our community will have the opportunity to purchase private health insurance through the Healthcare Marketplace, a website offering insurance plans available through the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchange. Some states operate their own Marketplace. In other states like Ohio, the Marketplace is run by the federal government. Most people must have health coverage or pay a fee. In 2015 the fee will be $325 per person, or 2% of your income, whichever is higher. Some people may qualify for exemption from this fee. Marketplace Open Enrollment for 2015 coverage begins November 15th, 2014, and runs through February 15, 2015.

The Marketplace is designed to help uninsured people find affordable health coverage with plans that cover essential health benefits, pre-existing conditions, and preventative care.

All of the plans in the Marketplace cover a comprehensive set of benefits; including doctor visits, hospital stays, preventative care, and prescriptions. You cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. With one streamlined application you can find out if you qualify for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, or savings you can use right away to lower your monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Most people who apply will qualify for some kind of savings.

By visiting Healthcare.gov you will be able to compare your health coverage options and see what your premium, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs will be for choosing a plan. Comparing plans based on price, benefits, quality, and other features is important to help you chose the plan that will best meet your individual healthcare needs.

We recommend that you consider some key factors before choosing a health plan. There are a variety of plans to meet all needs and budgets. Consider your health care needs and how much you are able to spend on premiums each month when choosing a plan. If you expect to have frequent doctor visits or treatments and need regular prescriptions, you may want to select a plan that has higher monthly premiums but will pay more of the cost of your care. This could significantly help lower your out-of-pocket cost for each doctor visit, medical procedure, or prescriptions. It is also important for you to know that the lowest premium plan may not include Southeastern Med and our local physicians as providers. This means that if you need to utilize the services of the hospital or your physician, you may be seeking care "outside of your plan" and it is possible the services will not be paid by insurance. Currently, Southeastern Med participates with Anthem, MMO, and InHealth Marketplace plans in Guernsey County. When making your selection, seek to find out if your local hospitals and doctors have signed a contract to provide care to patients insured by that plan.

There are resources available right now to help you learn about types of health coverage, research your questions, and get ready to choose a health plan that gives you the right balance of costs and coverage.

  • Visit HealthCare.gov and sign up to get text message and email updates.
  • Call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325.
  • "Like" Facebook.com/HealthCareGov
    • "Follow" @HealthCareGov on Twitter

It is Southeastern Med's goal to keep healthcare affordable for members of our community. We have staff that are Certified Application Counselors for the Marketplace and can assist you in understanding your options and completing an application. You are encouraged to contact our financial counselors. Southeastern Med's financial counselors can be reached by calling 740-439-8140 and selecting option 4.

You can access Southeastern Med's financial assistance application and billing, collections, HCAP and charity policies underneath our financial information section.