Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Heart Disease, How to stay healthy

Where there is smoke, there is fire

examination of lungs by x-rayThe CDC announced this week that, over the past three years, 1.8 million Americans were inspired to try to quit smoking and 104,000 have given up the dangerous habit for good, thanks — at least in part — to an aggressive national campaign initiated in 2014. And some people say that marketing is a waste of money? The educational, non-smoking crusade included public service announcements and ads that shared “Tips from Former Smokers.”  Survey results were published on March 24, 2016 in the journal, Preventing Chronic Disease.

The ads featured various ways that people struggle with smoking-related health issues:

  • Cancer
  • Gum disease
  • Premature birth
  • Stroke caused by smoking combined with HIV.

A man knocks smoking outAbout 80 percent of U.S. adult cigarette smokers who were surveyed reported that they had seen at least one television ad during the campaign. I’ve seen some of these PSAs. They are pretty crazy! Tips was the first federally funded anti-smoking media campaign, and is widely considered well worth the investment, since smoking-related diseases cost the United States more than $300 billion each year, including nearly $170 billion in direct health care costs and more than $156 billion in lost productivity. That’s a lot of lost money and productivity that’s going up in smoke!

“The Tips’ campaign is an important counter measure to the one million dollars that the tobacco industry spends each hour on cigarette advertising and promotion,” said Corinne Graffunder, Dr.P.H., director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “The money spent in one year on Tips is less than the amount the tobacco industry spends on advertising and promotion in just three days.”

The most recent Surgeon General’s Report, The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress revealed that cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, killing about 480,000 Americans each year. I guess I take pride in the fact that dogs don’t smoke. But, in all honesty, doing so would be difficult without opposable thumbs.

For every American who dies from a smoking-related disease, about 30 more suffer at least one serious illness associated with first or secondhand smoke. And while the percentage of American adults who smoke is at the lowest level since the CDC began tracking such data, there are still an estimated 40 million adult smokers in the U.S.

Dejar de fumarQuitting smoking lowers the risk of diabetes, lets blood vessels work better, and helps the heart and lungs. Since life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than that of non-smokers, quitting smoking before the age of 40 reduces the risk of dying from smoking-related disease by about 90%. Likely for these reasons, surveys show that 70 percent of all smokers have the desire to quit. I know I have the desire for them to quit! As a dog, I smell smoke on everything it touches, even more than my human companions.

The American Cancer Society reports that quitting completely at any age has significant health and lifestyle benefits:

  1. Within minutes of smoking the last cigarette, the body begins to recover:
  • 20 minutes after quitting, heart rate and blood pressure drop.
  • 12 hours after quitting, carbon monoxide levels in blood drop to normal.
  1. Almost immediately after quitting:
  • Food tastes better.
  • Sense of smell returns to normal.
  • Breath, hair, and clothes smell better.
  • Teeth and fingernails stop yellowing.
  • Ordinary activities leave non-smokers less out of breath than their smoking peers.
  • Minimizes the damaging effects of tobacco on appearance, including premature wrinkling of skin, gum disease, and tooth loss.
  1. Three weeks to nine months after quitting, circulation improves and lung function increases.
  • Coughing and shortness of breath decrease.
  • Cilia start to regain normal function in the lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
  1. One year after quitting, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
  • Heart attack risk drops dramatically.
    Fotolia_63127753_XS
  1. Five years after quitting, the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half.
  • Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker.
  • Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after two to five years
  1. 10 years after quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking.
  • The risk of cancer of the larynx (voice box) and pancreas decreases.

 

  1. 15 years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker’s.

If you smoke and would like to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.cdc.gov/tips to view personal stories from the Tips’ campaign as well as detailed assistance developed by the National Cancer Institute to support smokers who are trying to quit. And I might add, if you don’t smoke, don’t start!cigarette ban red

Remember that safety is a daily priority. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just where smoking is concerned. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Heart Disease, How to stay healthy

Be Heart Smart

3d blackboard with the word heart health. Medical conceptEach February, the American Heart Association marks the month dedicated to love as the time to call attention to heart health. Although the iconic romantic symbol of a heart bears no resemblance to the physical organ that pumps blood to human tissue, the association is obvious: we should do whatever it takes to help loved ones stay healthy. I love celebrating Valentine’s Day with my wife and our son, JR. I love them both, with all of my heart. And to that end, heart disease prevention is paramount.

The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which restricts blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can lead to a heart attack. Here are some of the most common types of heart conditions:

  • Aortic Aneurysm – a bulge in a section of theaorta, the body’s main artery. The aorta carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Because the section with the aneurysm is overstretched and weak, it can burst. If the aorta bursts, it can cause serious bleeding that can quickly lead to death.
  • Atrial Fibrillation – often called AFib or AF, is the most common type of heart arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is when the heart beats too slowly, too fast, or in an irregular way. When a person has AFib, the normal beating in the upper chambers of the heart (the two atria) is irregular, and blood doesn’t flow as well as it should from the atria to the lower chambers of the heart (the two ventricles). AFib may occur in brief episodes, or it may be a permanent condition. I wonder if those episodes are anything like what I see on TV at the fire station. Some of that stuff the characters go through is crazy.
  • Cardiomyopathy – The normal muscle in the heart can thicken, stiffen, thin out, or fill with substances the body produces that do not belong in the heart muscle. As a result, the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood is reduced, which can lead to irregular heartbeats, the backup of blood into the lungs or rest of the body, and heart failure.
  • Congestive Heart Failure – Does not mean theheart has stopped working. Rather, it means that the heart’s pumping power is weaker than normal. With heart failure, blood moves through the heart and body at a slower rate, and pressure in the heart increases. As a result, the heart cannot pump enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body’s needs. I wonder if it would help to eat more bacon? Bacon seems to help with everything. But, in this case…maybe not?
  • Coronary Artery Disease – This happens when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls. This buildup is called atherosclerosis. As it grows, less blood can flow through the arteries. As a result, the heart muscle can’t get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack.
  • Heart Attack – This happens when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked and the heart can’t get oxygen. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the section of heart muscle begins to die.heart with arms and legs measure blood pressure
  • High Blood Pressure – A common disease in which blood flows through blood vessels (arteries) at higher than normal pressures. Sometimes called “the silent killer,” uncontrolled high blood pressure (HBP) can injure or kill because HBP has no symptoms. So victims may not be aware that their arteries, heart and other organs are being damaged.
  • Pulmonary Hypertension – High blood pressure that occurs in the arteries in the lungs. It is a different measurement altogether from systemic blood pressure, reflecting the pressure the heart must exert to pump blood from the heart through the arteries of the lungs.
  • Stroke – A stroke is a “brain attack,” which can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost. These seem like pretty important areas of the brain.

The best way to prepare yourself and loved ones to handle heart-related health problems is to take care of yourself:

Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Chest discomfort (It usually lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and returns. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body

FAST (Stroke Symptoms)

  • Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the victim unable to speak, or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 9-1-1– If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get him or her to the hospital immediately.

Cardiac Arrest Symptoms

  • Loss of responsiveness
  • Loss of normal breathing

Remember that safety is a daily priority, not just during Heart Health Month. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here

 

Posted in Health & Welfare, Heart Disease

Happy National Health & Fitness Day

Fitness Firedog 3National Family Health & Fitness Day USA is an annual event observed the last Saturday of September, to encourage families to deliberately include physical activity in their daily lives. Since this year’s event will take place on Saturday, September 27, we wanted to devote this week’s RJWestmore blog posts to encourage subscribers and friends to develop a fit lifestyle for optimum health and wellness. This is an event I can really get behind, because (like most dogs), I love to stay active!

One of the goals of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, family fitness is crucial for anyone who wants to do their part to avoid costly and uncomfortable health crises. Of course, no course of action can guarantee perfect health. But countless studies confirm that people who exercise on a regular basis are healthier, by far, than their sedentary peers.

According to Health.Gov, regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes, and additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration. The Office of Disease
Prevention and Health Promotion
also points out five important facts about physical activity:

  1. Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity. In fact, I would suggest 150 minutes a day of exercise.
  2. Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial. That means walking is just as good as weight lifting. I prefer walking.
  3. Health benefits occur for children and adolescents, young and middle-aged adults, older adults and dogs, and those in every studied racial and ethnic group!
  4. The health benefits of physical activity occur for people and pets with or without disabilities.
  5. The benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of adverse outcomes. So don’t use a lame excuse to get out of working out.

Fitness FiredogUnfortunately, despite the fact most people agree that activity is the key to optimum health, the Surgeon General reports that the majority of Americans, and especially children from 12 to 21, do not exercise nearly enough. And since most dogs depend on their masters to take them for walks, I’ll bet most dogs don’t get enough exercise, either. In fact, CBS News reported that 80 percent of American adults do not get the recommended amount of exercise each week. Data analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came from more than 450,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and older who were randomly phoned across all 50 states.

To help correct the trend, Health Information Research Center (HIRC) staff members help local organizations throughout the country host events such as health fairs, family walks, low-impact exercise demonstrations, health screenings, open houses, games and workshops at schools, park districts, hospitals, YMCAs/YWCAs, malls and health clubs. Thousands of adults, children and pets are expected to participate in this year’s health and fitness activities.

“We are now entering our 18th year as a national family health and fitness event,” says Pat Henze, FHFD director. “Our goals for Family Health & Fitness Day are to emphasize the importance and fun of regular physical activity and to encourage families of all ages to take advantage of the many health and fitness programs offered in their communities.”

 What Can Adults Do To Get Enough Physical Activity?

Fitness Firedog 2When it comes to exercise, remember that every little bit adds up. And doing something is always better than doing nothing. Here are 10 ideas for getting fit:

  1. Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly. Fitting activity into a daily routine can be easy — such as taking a brisk 10 minute walk to and from the parking lot, bus stop, or subway station. I suggest walking the dog.
  2. Join an exercise class or workout to an exercise video. Keep things interesting by trying something different on alternate days.
  3. Walk up and down the soccer or softball field sidelines while watching the kids play. And maybe bring the dog so he can walk, too.
  4. Walk the dog — don’t just watch the dog walk. I LOVE THIS LIST!
  5. Clean the house or wash the car.
  6. Walk, skate, or cycle more and drive less.
  7. While watching television, do stretches, exercises, or pedal a stationary bike. I’ve never understood the draw of TV. Why not do something instead of watching other people do fun stuff?
  8. Mow the lawn with an old-fashioned push mower. Increase activity level by planting and caring for a vegetable or flower garden.
  9. Start a walking group in the neighborhood or at the local shopping mall. Recruit a partner for support and encouragement. Again, why leave the dog at home?
  10. Get the whole family involved — enjoy an afternoon bike ride with your kids and your dog.

We hope you will observe National Health & Family Fitness Day, so you will avoid the problems so often associated with living a sedentary life. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to helping improve and save lives. Visit our website for ways proper planning can make a difference in many aspects of your life.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Heart Disease

Would You Be Prepared for a Stroke?

Stroke Assoc CorpSince May is National Stroke Awareness Month, we wanted to make sure our readers and subscribers know how to avoid a stroke, the way to recognize when it happens, and what to do.

Facts about Stroke

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing brain tissue to die. Pretty scary stuff. A stroke often starts as a sudden feeling of numbness or weakness on half of the body.  Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 Americans each year. On average, one American dies from stroke every four minutes. There are two types of stroke, both of which can cause brain cells to die quickly. An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain. Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke. Although dogs don’t have the same types of strokes that humans do, they can suffer the loss of movement when microscopic pieces of cartilage and fibrous tissue develop in the body and break off, blocking blood flow to the spinal column.

Stoke Month Corp

A “mini-stroke,” or transient ischemic attack (TIA), occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted only briefly. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. Despite the fact that the risk of stroke increases with age, strokes can occur at any age, In fact, one-third of people hospitalized for stroke in 2006 were younger than age 65.

Facts about Strokes

  • On average, one American dies from stroke every four minutes.
  • Each year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke.
  • About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes.
  • About 185,000 strokes—nearly one of four—strike people who have had a previous stroke.
  • About 87% of all strokes occur when blood flow to the brain is blocked.
  • Stroke costs the U.S. an estimated $36.5 billion each year. (This includes the cost of health care services, medications and missed days of work.)
  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.
  • Bacon. (This has nothing to do with strokes. But I can’t pass up the opportunity to mention my favorite food.)

How to Prevent a Stroke

Although nothing can definitively prevent stroke, you can significantly reduce your risk factors by adopting a healthy lifestyle which includes:

  • Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. I hope this doesn’t mean I have to cut out bacon.
  • Avoid foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Uh-oh.
  • Add fiber-rich foods to your daily routine.
  • Limit sodium intake.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your Body Mass Index on the CDC website.
  • Stay physically active. Adults should engage in moderate intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • If you smoke, stop. If you don’t smoke—don’t start. Cigarette smoking greatly increases the risk of stroke.
  • Limit alcohol use. Women should have no more than one drink per day; men no more than two drinks per day. Dogs should avoid alcohol altogether.
  • Prevent and/or treat medical conditions.
  • Ask your doctor to check your cholesterol at least once every five years.
  • Monitor and control your blood pressure.
  • If you have diabetes or are at risk for developing it, closely monitor your blood sugar levels.

Symptoms of Stroke—and What to Do

If you think you are having a stroke, call 911 immediately! Patients who arrive at an emergency room within three hours of the onset of their first symptoms tend to be healthier three months following a stroke than those whose care was delayed.

The five most common signs and symptoms of stroke are sudden:

  1. Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg.
  2. Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others.
  3. Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  4. Dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of balance or coordination.
  5. Severe headache with no known cause. Cats give me migraines.

To help identify symptoms of stroke, the National Stroke Association has come up with an acronym: FAST

Face Drooping

Arm Weakness

Speech Difficulty

Time to call 9-1-1

For more information about preventing and/or treating strokes, check out these websites:

The National Stroke Association

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

The Mayo Clinic

The American Heart Association

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

The National Institutes of Health

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for a disaster of any kind is to be aware. Our system is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Posted in Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Heart Disease

February is all about the Heart

動悸 息切れ 喘息February isn’t important just because of Valentine’s Day. It is also American Heart Month. Unfortunately, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women; but it is also preventable and controllable. We wanted to join the CDC and the American Heart Association in providing helpful tips for better heart health.

Did you know?

  • Each year, about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack.
  • Similar to that of humans, a primary cause of mortality in dogs is heart disease.
  • In the United States, 600,000 people die each year from heart disease, which is one out of every four deaths.
  • Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, costs the United States $312.6 billion each year, including the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America for both men and women.
  • Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, where no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help.

The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type in the U.S. is coronary heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease), which occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Coronary heart disease can cause heart attack, angina, heart failure, and arrhythmias.

Although the situation is admittedly alarming, there is good news—heart disease is preventable and controllable, in humans and their canine companions. Some health conditions and lifestyle factors can put people at a higher risk for developing heart disease. You can help prevent heart disease by making healthy choices and managing preexisting medical conditions.

Heart Month firedog 2

Plan for Prevention

  • Eat a healthy diet. Choose healthful meal and snack options to ward off heart disease and associated complications, including stroke. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Adults should have at least five servings each day. Also, eat foods that are low in saturated fat, Trans fat, and cholesterol. (One way to do this is to eat plenty of fiber.) Limit salt or sodium, which can lower blood pressure. For more information on healthy diet and nutrition, visit the CDC’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Program website. In much the same way you need to eat healthy to avoid heart disease, your pet will benefit from a nutrient-rich diet. I’m not sure what that means; but I hope I can still have bacon!
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese could increase your risk of heart disease. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI). Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to calculate body fat.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Can’t think of anything to do? Take your dog for a walk!
  • Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to check yours on a regular basis.
  • Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases the risk for heart disease, among many other problems. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible. At least my lack of opposable thumbs has kept me from starting a bad habit.
  • Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking excess alcohol, which can increase blood pressure. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women, no more than one.
  • Check your cholesterol. Your health care provider should routinely test your cholesterol levels at least once every five years.
  • If applicable, manage your diabetes. Monitor blood sugar levels closely, and talk with your doctor about treatment options. To avoid diabetes, maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
  • Take necessary mediation. If your doctor has prescribed medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, follow his or her recommendations.
  • Familiarize yourself with Danger Signs and act quickly if you suspect heart attack or stroke.

Heart Attack Warning Signs

  • Chest Discomfort
  • Discomfort in Other Parts of the Body
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Breaking out in a Cold Sweat
  • Nausea and/or Lightheadedness

Stroke Warning Signs (Spot a Stroke FAST)

  • Face Drooping -Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm Weakness-Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty-Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 911-If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Beyond F.A.S.T. – Other Symptoms You Should Know

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • A Drooling Dog – not necessarily a symptom of a heart attack, but it could indicate your pooch needs some pork chops, STAT!

Cardiac Arrest Signs

  • Sudden Loss of Responsiveness – Victim won’t respond to tapping on his or her shoulder.
  • Interruption of Normal Breathing -The victim does not take a normal breath when you tilt the head up and check for at least five seconds. 

Fast action can save lives — maybe your own. If you experience any of the above signs and symptoms or witness someone else doing the same, remember that minutes matter! When in doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t wait more than five minutes to call 911 or your emergency response number.

When active shooter incidents or other disasters strike, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.