Heart Disease

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    Community Voices

    I'm new here!

    Hi, my name is earlyretirement55. I'm here because
    I have been working in toxic environments since I first started working. The place I have been working in for 15 years is no different. It has taken its toll on my health and I would like to retire early before it kills me. Let's face it, I am no millionaire...how do I do it without the added stress of poverty and the lack of support from my spouse?
    #MightyTogether #Depression #PTSD #HeartDisease #Anxiety #Arthritis

    5 people are talking about this
    Megan Glosson

    Types of Migraine Medications: A Guide to Prevention and Treatment

    If you ask me, medications can be one of the most confusing parts of any health condition. However, migraine medications can be especially confusing because there are different types of medications for different reasons, and sometimes people take multiple medications depending on the day. Plus, as more doctors spend time researching migraine, more medications hit the market, which throws everything off-kilter. Whether you are new to your migraine diagnosis or a veteran who is looking for better options, you may want to know how migraine medications work and what options are available to you. Well, luckily for you, this list breaks down the most common types of migraine medications based on whether they help with prevention, acute treatment, or can be purchased over-the-counter. Preventative Migraine Medications Many people with migraine use preventative medications to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. People who are prescribed these medications take them daily or receive them as injections monthly or quarterly. While there are many different preventative medications available to migraineurs, they fall under four main types of preventative medications: antihypertensives, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and CGRP inhibitors. Antihypertensives typically treat high blood pressure, but can also help prevent migraine attacks. Common antihypertensives used for migraine treatment include lisinopril (an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor), propranolol (a beta-blocker), and candesartan (an angiotensin receptor blocker). Most doctors believe that these medications prevent migraine symptoms by lowering the blood pressure of the individual using them. Unfortunately, these medications can come with side effects. Furthermore, since they lower blood pressure, they can cause issues for individuals who already experience low blood pressure. Anticonvulsants, which are also called anti-seizure medications, can also help people experience less frequent and less severe symptoms. Topiramate (Topamax®) and valproate (Depakote®) are commonly used anticonvulsants for migraine. These medications are also used for epilepsy, and researchers believe these medications work as a preventative for migraine because the two conditions share several characteristics. However, anticonvulsants aren’t a great preventative option for everyone, especially women who also use birth control. They can also cause many side effects, including nausea, dizziness, tremors, or tingling in the arms. Believe it or not, some antidepressants also work for migraine prevention. More specifically, some tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline) and SNRI antidepressants (Effexor) help prevent migraine attacks by affecting chemical levels within the brain. As an added bonus, these medications can also help if people live with a comorbidity of depression with migraine. More recently, doctors have started using calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors for migraine prevention. Unlike the other migraine preventative options out there, these come in the form of injections that can be self-administered or administered by a healthcare provider either monthly or quarterly. Although Aimovig is the most commonly recognized CGRP inhibitor available, there are several different options. Finally, some people receive Botox injections as a migraine preventative. Typically this is only an option for people with chronic migraine, and are administered quarterly. With any of these preventatives, your doctor will need to weigh the pros and cons with you to determine which options may be best based on your health and any other underlying conditions. Furthermore, your insurance may impact your ability to receive some of these preventatives, especially in the case of the CGRP inhibitors and Botox injections. Abortive Migraine Medications Unfortunately, even the most effective preventative medications don’t stop migraine attacks completely. For this reason, many people who live with migraine rely on acute medications, also called abortives, on an as-needed basis to help stop migraine once a person notices the first signs of an attack. Abortive medications include: triptans, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ergotamines, CGRP antagonists, and dihydroergotamine (DHE). Although they are often the topic of migraine memes, triptans are some of the most commonly prescribed acute medications for migraine. These medications are specifically designed for migraine management and come in a variety of forms. In fact, there are triptans available as tablets, injections, and even nasal sprays. There are a total of seven types of triptans available. Triptans work almost like serotonin and essentially reverse the effects of migraine. When taken early enough, people find these abortives highly effective. Unfortunately, triptans are not recommended for hemiplegic migraine, nor can anyone with a history of heart disease or hypertension take these abortive medications. They also come with a fair amount of side effects. While typically available as over-the-counter medications, prescription NSAIDs are also available for the treatment of migraine. These medications are usually most effective when taken in the early stages of a migraine attack, and can even be taken alongside triptans in some cases. Unfortunately, NSAIDs can impact a person’s digestive tract, especially the lining of the stomach and intestines. Furthermore, NSAIDs commonly cause rebound headaches in people who take these medications more than 10 times per month. CGRP antagonists are a relatively new type of acute migraine treatment. These medications essentially decrease artery inflammation, which essentially stops a migraine from escalating. Currently, there are three oral CGRP antagonists available with FDA approval, and studies show these may be the most effective form of migraine abortive yet. Dihydroergotamine (DHE) is another prescription abortive available. Although it is primarily used in emergency rooms, it has become more available to the general public in recent years. It works rapidly to narrow blood vessels and relieve other symptoms of migraine. It can be used both during prodrome and during the headache or attack phase for relief. DHE is a great alternative to many of the other acute migraine medications out there because it comes in many forms, including nasal sprays, intravenous infusions, and injections. Over-the-Counter Migraine Medications People who live with migraine often rely on many over-the-counter medications to help with their symptoms as well. These are typically pain relievers that can help with acute migraine treatment or as a preventative.Common over-the-counter medications for migraine include: Acetaminophen Ibuprofen Naproxen (Aleve) Aspirin Aspirin + Acetaminophen + Caffeine (Excedrin, Goody’s) While these medications can help with migraine pain, they can also cause rebound headaches and other unwanted side effects. Anyone who experiences 10 or more days of migraine attacks in a month should consider replacing over-the-counter medication use with other options if at all possible. As you can tell, there are countless options out there for migraine medications. However, most of them fall under one of three main umbrellas (preventative, abortive, and over-the-counter) as a part of one of about a dozen categories of migraine treatment. Hopefully, this list makes the confusing world of migraine medication a little easier to understand. Just remember — it’s always best to consult a doctor who specializes in migraine and ask the right questions before starting on any type of medication or other treatment for your migraine symptoms.

    Sarah Zellner

    The Long-Term Health Impact of Preeclampsia During Pregnancy

    May is Preeclampsia Awareness Month. Preeclampsia is the number one pregnancy disorder facing pregnant people today, and it doesn’t necessarily end when you give birth. Preeclampsia, eclampsia, and HELLP syndrome are all considered hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. Most people think that once the baby is out, everything will be fine. They don’t realize there are quite serious potential long-term side effects of having had preeclampsia. In 2007 I gave birth to my first child. He was born prematurely due to early-onset severe preeclampsia. I also went on to develop eclampsia. I came far too close to death giving birth to my son, and it nearly took his life too. Fast forward to 2010, I gave birth to my second child. He was also premature due to early-onset severe preeclampsia. Lastly, in 2011 I gave birth to my twins. This was now my third time developing early-onset severe preeclampsia and I also developed HELLP syndrome. I never had high blood pressure prior to having preeclampsia and it did not go away after giving birth. I continued taking my blood pressure medication as prescribed and my doctor assured me that it just happens sometimes. Sometimes BP goes back to normal, but that doesn’t always happen. Nobody seemed worried, so I wasn’t worried. That is until about five years out. I woke up one day and I just couldn’t move. I could barely breathe and when I did stand up I had to sit within about two minutes. I felt awful. This progressed for a few hours, so I went to the ER. The following day I was diagnosed with atrial tachycardia and a flutter. They blamed my consistent high blood pressure for these heart issues. Another five years went by and I had a stroke. At this time I was seeing neurology and cardiology specialists. After a long series of various tests, it all came back to the common denominator of preeclampsia. Ten years later preeclampsia still had a hold on my life; how is that possible? Well, according to The Preeclampsia Foundation, “Women who have had preeclampsia have three to four times the risk of high blood pressure and double the risk for heart disease and stroke.” Research also shows that those who give birth prematurely, have an SGA baby, and those who have had it more than once have higher risk factors. This does not mean that every person with preeclampsia is going to end up like me, or even remotely close to what happened to me. This is to make you aware so you can discuss options now with your doctor on maintaining a healthy heart lifestyle. I never thought any of this would happen to me. I had no idea what preeclampsia even was prior to getting it, and unfortunately, there is no way to know who will develop it. There are certain characteristics that put you at higher risk, but I had none of them. Some people may have all of them and not get it. It’s terrifying how fast it can come on. I encourage all pregnant individuals to do a little research on it. Know the symptoms. This goes for those who have had it as well. Please look into these potential side effects and know the symptoms. I am not the same person I once was. I hope by relaying this message I can help prevent possible heart disease and/or stroke in other survivors of preeclampsia.

    How Long-Term Hospitalization Can Severely Impact Dental Health

    When my sister and I were children, my mother would put fluoride in our milk every morning, made sure we brushed our teeth twice a day, and took us for regular dental checkups and cleaning. Throughout my teens and adulthood, I remained diligent about my dental health, and aside from rebuilding a broken front tooth and two years of braces, had no dental work whatsoever. Not a single cavity in 40 years (which, apparently, is very unusual). But that all drastically changed in my 40s. In 2009, as a result of a rare neurological autoimmune illness, I was hospitalized and mostly bed-confined for 18 months. During my hospitalization, I received no oral health care that I can remember. When my mouth was dry, I was allowed to suck on a small, moistened sponge on a stick. Much later, I was permitted to chew ice chips, and suck the resulting water from my mouth with my suction wand. Near the end, after I had the tracheostomy removed, I relearned how to swallow and was finally able to eat and drink by mouth again. Never once, in the year and a half I was hospitalized, was my mouth cleaned or my teeth brushed. My oral health was completely overlooked. Under the circumstances, I imagine it was probably the last thing anyone was thinking about, including myself. But I wish it had been included in my daily care. It would have saved me a whole lot of discomfort, time, and money in the future. Some time after I left the hospital, I was finally able to see a dentist for a cleaning and check-up. The cleaning took an extraordinarily long time, and I grew more uncomfortable with each passing minute. I struggled to hold my mouth open and body still as the hygienist scraped and polished away years of plaque and tartar build-up. Afterward, the dentist looked at the x-rays and examined my teeth, then delivered the news: I required five fillings, and was going to need a root canal in one of my molars. For someone who had never had a cavity, this was quite a shock. I went ahead and booked the appointments to have the work done, and began following all the dentist’s recommendations to prevent further dental issues. Little did I know that this was only the first of many more issues to come. As the years marched on, despite my best efforts to maintain excellent oral hygiene, my teeth continued to deteriorate. I spent several years returning again and again to the dentist’s chair, wading through the red tape of funding, and often draining my already meager bank account. Today, I have 15 fillings, five root canals, five crowns, one implant, and I’m still waiting for funding approval for two more crowns. My husband’s dental insurance is pretty good, and the Ministry covers up to a certain amount per year. However, dental work is expensive, and many procedures (like crowns) are not fully covered, and some are not covered at all (like implants). So why did this happen? Tooth decay isn’t often noticeable right away. It can take some time before it is identified, and an improvement in oral care can prevent further decay, but does not reverse the damage that has begun. This is why I kept returning to the dentist for years after I left the hospital. There are many reasons for dental health issues, but the three main reasons people who have been hospitalized for an extended time develop tooth decay are dry mouth, inadequate cleaning, and medications. Dry mouth: The number one reason why long-term hospital patients develop dental issues is dry mouth. There are multiple reasons why a patient develops dry mouth, including ventilation, open-mouth breathing, brain injury, and disease. Saliva is an important component of oral health. Saliva provides a natural defense against acid erosion by neutralizing acids within the mouth, washing away food debris, and restoring minerals to the teeth. Decreased saliva production often leads to tooth decay and gum disease. Inadequate cleaning: When a patient is in the ICU and medical staff are fighting to keep them alive, oral health care is the lowest concern on the priority list. Issues such as lack of consciousness, intubation, ventilation, seizures, etc. prevent oral care from being performed. But even when the patient stabilizes and begins to recover, oral care is often overlooked. It is simply not included in the procedure that nurses and hospital aides follow in caring for patients. It wasn’t until I left the hospital and entered rehab that dental hygiene became part of my daily routine again. Medication: Some medications may have a direct impact on dental health by causing inflammation, infection, enamel erosion, or bone problems. Many medications, however, impact dental health indirectly through the side effect of dry mouth which, as I explained earlier, is a common cause of tooth decay. The fact that dental care is separate from health care is a mystery to me. Our mouths are a part of our body, and our oral health can impact our physical health. Gum disease is linked to a host of illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Here in Canada, the importance of dental health and its link to overall wellness is becoming recognized, and there is a push for universal dental care. Until that happens, if you have a loved one in medical care, make sure oral hygiene is a part of their regular routine. They (and their wallets) will thank you!

    Tessa Koller

    It's Time to Stop Referring to Health Issues as Shameful

    Lately, comedians and actresses have been open about different health conditions. One comedian stated in the press that she used to struggle with trichotillomania (hair pulling) and referred to it as shameful. Whenever a health issue affects someone’s appearance, the person and those around them seem to have to mention how shameful it is to have to look a certain way or go through such hardship. As someone with more health issues than one can sometimes manage, I’ve found that how we think and feel about our bodies matters more than what others think about how we look. When I was a kid, I had the same problem with hair pulling, which for me was a behavior driven by immense stress and anxiety. I never wore wigs and never cared how it altered my physical appearance until I reached an age where I wanted to stop, not for others but for myself. Then, I grew out of this problem in my early teen years and began treating my anxiety and depression holistically and with gentleness. My years of counseling taught me that the circumstances that make us uncomfortable can greatly impact our physical and mental health and well-being if we allow them to. It’s the power I’d grant to these health issues. Essentially, I also stopped shaming myself when my anxiety or depression would take over. Instead, these days, I sit with uncomfortable feelings and emotions using meditation to rewire my mind and thought processes. In recent months, I’ve been focused heavily on changing my diet and lifestyle gradually with the goal of feeling better. Throughout this exploration, I learned to accept the things about my body I can’t change or alter and love myself regardless of how our popular culture views health conditions in general. For instance, I was once incredibly self-conscious about having open-heart surgery, but I’ve realized the scar is barely visible. People rarely notice it, and when they do, are compelled to ask me, “What is that?” And, I’ll reply, “You know what it is,” and grin at them. They know what a scar is and what a person has gone through to get it. I don’t like to go around advertising that I have heart disease, but I don’t go around hiding it and shaming my body. I’m somebody who isn’t afraid to show my vulnerabilities, though I don’t think having scars means that I’m vulnerable. It means I possess more strength probably than most. Just in the previous two months of my life, I’ve endured a kind of physical agony and pain in my journey with long-haul COVID-19, and there are some symptoms I still can’t totally shake. These symptoms can and have impacted me socially and I have been able to disguise the embarrassing ones. Back in December, my entire digestive system stalled and froze up, and didn’t think I’d have to go through that again. Unfortunately, in the last three weeks, it happened again. However, I was diligent in ensuring they didn’t get out of hand and discovered we are in control of more than we realize. I gained control of my cravings, my diet, and how I navigate my lifestyle with health and wellness practices at the heart of everything I do. I appreciate the people who openly share their health struggles through their art or profession, and this is what I do daily. Like anybody else, I don’t love having health problems, but I don’t hate on them either. I’ve learned to accept myself and my body fully, even if symptoms are rampaging through my systems and wreaking havoc on my appearance. I’ve learned to change the things that I can, and most importantly, change my mindset about them. I believe our health issues exist for a deeper reason; one that is beyond greater than ourselves and struggles. We endure hardship and come out stronger, wiser, and better equipped to handle the stressors life notoriously throws at each and every human being on this floating, rotating rock. Health issues shouldn’t be classified or labeled as shameful. They shouldn’t be labeled as anything. They are what they are, and we can only change what is in our control to change.

    Community Voices
    Community Voices

    I’m new here!

    Hi, my name is pattieanng. I’m new to The Mighty and look forward to sharing my story.

    #MightyTogether #HeartDisease #Lupus

    3 people are talking about this
    Tessa Koller

    Health Effects of Long-Haul COVID-19

    It was just three months ago when I was convinced I was living in a “new normal.” Back in August 2021, I caught the COVID-19 Delta variant and for more than seven months now, I’ve been fighting long-haul COVID-19 . People seem to think that only your first COVID-19 symptoms can send you to the emergency room. This isn’t the case. Long-haul COVID-19 just about eradicated me, and I’m still having significant hang-ups in my recovery. For months, I was struggling with dizziness and nausea, several headaches a day, fatigue I wouldn’t wish on anybody, chest pains that went from dull to unbearable in the blink of an eye, and as of December, a shutdown of my digestive system. One day, the function of my digestive tract froze up, and I couldn’t use the restroom. It was December 4 when it started, though before this, I was having instances of utter discomfort, constipation, and inability to urinate. By then, my health took such a drastic turn that I thought I had a kidney stone. I knew this couldn’t be the case when I found myself in a diaper. My symptoms were troubling. Before I go into more detail, I first must mention that I know about the challenges of dealing with health conditions. I have heart disease, lung disease, fibromyalgia, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), depression, and anxiety. They are all associated with a genetic syndrome I live with, 22Q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, which is commonly known as DiGeorge Syndrome. I’m at high risk for COVId-19, and these risks maximized in intensity and frequency since I’ve started combatting long COVID-19. On December 4, I found myself nearly in septic shock, and my kidneys and liver also shut down. The only explanation I received from doctors was this was a long-haul COVID-19 case in the works. But I could’ve never prepared for what I was about to endure. It was alarming being told that my digestive system had frozen up, and I could go through this again. I was so constipated that I was losing feeling in the lower half of my body — starting just below my waist. Somehow, I made it through without ending up in septic shock. I knew, though, that the ramifications of my illness would impact me to a stunning degree. Long-haul COVID-19 has impacted me already. It’s the middle of March 2022, and I am still experiencing digestive system stalls. I also still have difficulty breathing, and I discovered that I may have an autoimmune disease as a result of my COVID-19 breakthrough infection. I’ve had to accept that I may struggle with symptoms related to long-haul COVID-19 for some time. I’m somebody who is a realistic thinker, and I personally don’t believe that positive or negative thinking has any importance on any outcome. I do meditative breathing when I’m experiencing intense physical pain and lose functionality in my body systems. Meditation, yoga, stretching, breathing, and being active when I am able has helped me — but not completely. Right now, I’m focusing on internal healing — treating these symptoms and flare-ups from the inside out. For three months straight, I’ve increased my Vitamin B12, D-3, Omega-3 and Omega-6, and zinc levels, and I’ve noticed changes in my overall energy. On those days when I must honor my body and simply surrender to daytime sleepiness and fatigue when my body wants to sleep but my brain doesn’t, I give my body what it needs. I’ve always listened to my body and acted accordingly during these times, and this has been my approach to wellness.

    Community Voices
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    A Love Letter to Family Caregivers Everywhere

    Dear Fellow Caregivers, I know you’re probably reading this letter feeling exhausted and are looking for some support . I used to be a professional caregiver who traveled house-to-house to help families as needed. Then, my grandfather had a stroke, and his Alzheimer’s advanced quickly. I became one of his caregivers and a part of Generation Care , everyday people taking on the extraordinary role of caring for a loved one living with a serious illness. I discovered that there’s a lot more to caregiving when you aren’t approaching it solely from the perspective of a professional. Being a caregiver is not easy, but your loved ones hold a special place in your heart which can make the experience bittersweet. Because of this love, there is sometimes this overwhelming sense of responsibility towards the person you’re caring for. You feel a deep sense of connection with your loved one, and you often put yourself in their shoes, trying to come up with ways you can support not only their physical health, but also their emotional and mental health. I never truly appreciated the emotions and sense of responsibility and duty faced by caregivers until now. Caregivers are superheroes, but we’re human too. It can be hard sometimes to take a step back and focus on our own physical and mental well-being. I get it — it’s not easy just to say “no.” Sometimes I am the only person whom my grandfather can recognize or the only one at home who can prevent him from hurting himself or others when he’s caught up in a bad episode of sundowning. Even if I’ve had a long day at work or am in my own chronic illness flare, I’ll be there helping, because the truth is, he’s my superhero. However, even superheroes need support . For my grandfather, I support him as a caregiver and granddaughter. But what’s going to help fuel my own caregiver superpowers? I think caregiving is one of the most life-changing experiences a person can have. It gives you the opportunity to connect with a loved one on a deeper level, and it can reveal a lot about yourself as a person. My outlook on life has changed significantly since becoming a primary caregiver for a loved one, and one of the main takeaways I have is that your mental health should not be ignored. Allow yourself the space to recharge and invest in yourself too. For me, supporting my mental health looks like reading and writing paranormal fiction. Whatever that may look like for you, take the time for yourself even if it’s just five minutes. If you’re looking for some additional support, know that you’re not alone in your journey. There are a lot of people who appreciate the care you’re giving to your loved ones. That’s why I helped create this Digital Toolkit For Caregivers in partnership with Janssen , so that no matter if you’re new to caregiving or already have a lot of experience, there are some resources to support you and your loved one. Take what you need, and share it with others too — you never know just how much reaching out and supporting a fellow caregiver can help. Stay Mighty, Heidi