Aspirin and your Heart

Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory and anti-platelet drug, and is used to treat pain, fever, blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.

The benefits of taking aspirin daily include if you:

Have had a heart attack or chest pain

Had open heart surgery

Had coronary angioplasty

Had a stroke or TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack)

Have peripheral vascular disease (PVD)

Have heart rhythm problems, such as atrial fibrillation (A.Fib)

Risks of taking aspirin every day include minor bleeding or bruising, worsening of asthma, upset stomach, or allergic reaction. Children should not be given aspirin due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome (rapidly progressive brain dysfunction).  Contraindications for use of aspirin include allergies to NSAID’s, peptic ulcers, GERD or gastritis, hemophilia, kidney disease, and gout.

There are 2 forms of aspirin you can take. Please ask your doctor which is best for you. The first type is called non-enteric coated.  This means the aspirin does not have a protective coating that keeps your stomach from being upset, but is best to take when having active chest pain.  This type comes in a chewable form.  The enteric coated aspirin has the protective covering that keeps your stomach safe.  This type cannot be chewed or crushed.  Do not take any aspirin with alcohol as it increase chance of bleeding and stomach distress.

Please seek immediate medical attention if you have an allergic reaction, stools are black or bloody, vomit or cough up blood, there if blood is in your urine or you feel shortness of breath.

 

Information obtained from Elsevier Interactive Patient Education, Elsevier Inc. (2017).

The Importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is very important because it helps your body metabolize calcium and phosphorous (muscle, bone, and dental health), thought to support your immune system; prevent diabetes and multiple sclerosis, and functions of the heart. When there is not enough vitamin D you have Vitamin D Deficiency.

You can get vitamin D from milk, and other dairy foods, a Vitamin D supplement, and being in the sun.   When you have a severe deficiency of Vitamin D your bones can become soft.  In adults this is called osteomalacia, and in children rickets.  Research is showing vitamin D supplements can prevent multiple sclerosis (MS) or keep symptoms of it from worsening. They have found the farther away a person lives from the equator the greater the chance they will have MS.

Deficiency can be caused by a poor intake of foods having vitamin D, not enough sun exposure, digestive disorders that cause poor absorption of vitamin D, such as Crohn disease, pancreatitis, and cystic fibrosis. Deficiencies can also be caused by being overweight, having stomach or small intestine surgery, and having kidney or liver disease. Breast fed babies are also at risk for deficiency.

Those at greatest risk are the elderly, those who do not expose themselves to the sun, those with broken bones, those with osteoporosis, those who have a disease of condition that prevents proper absorption of vitamin D, dark skinned people, those on steroid and seizure medications, and those who are overweight.

Symptoms include bone, and muscle pain. Frequency of falls, bone fractures, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Deficiency can be diagnosed by a blood test.  Test results differ in males and female.  The optimal range for Women is 18-78 pg/ml, and Males 18-64 pg/ml per the 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D test.  For the 25-hydroxy D test 20-30ng/ml indicates insufficiency, while less than 20 ng/ml is deficiency.  Over 30ng/ml is considered optimal for this test.  High levels of Vitamin D can be seen in those over taking supplements, hyperparathyroidism, high calcium levels, kidney stones, sarcoidosis and kidney disease.

Treatment includes improving diet with foods that contain vitamin D (fortified dairy, cereal, juice, fish, and eggs), Infant formula, and dietary supplements of vitamin D and calcium. Exposure to sunlight is important, but use caution to prevent sunburn or if you are at risk for skin cancers. Using a tanning bed is not recommended. If found to be deficient the treatment for an adult is typically vitamin D 50,000 IU three times a week for three months and then a daily over the counter daily use of up to 4,000 IU once daily. For healthy individuals that have normal vitamin D levels, daily International Units or IU’s recommended are as follows:

Infants: 400 IU once daily

Children (>1 year old): 600 IU once daily

Adults: 600 IU once daily

Elderly: 800 IU once daily

Pregnant and breast feeding: 600 IU once daily

Each of these is to be taken with your largest meal of the day for the best chance of absorption.

Talk to your primary care physician to get tested.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. An infected tick transmits the bacteria to its victims by biting.  The tick must be attached to your skin for 36 hours or more for transmission of bacteria to take place.

A circular rash surrounding the tick bite is the first sign of infection, and can appear up to 30 days after tick removal. Additional symptoms include flu-like symptoms, fatigue, headache, chills and fever, generalized body aches, joint pain, and swollen lymph glands.

States with the most frequent exposure to these ticks are the New England, Mid-Atlantic States, and the Midwest. These ticks are often found on deer and like wooded, grassy areas. Lab tests can confirm diagnosis but must be several weeks into the infection so the body has time to develop antibodies.

Treatment of choice is an antibiotic, which may have to be taken for several weeks. The most common antibiotics used are amoxicillin, and cefuroxime. Treatment is more effective if started early. If the infection is serious, IV antibiotics may be needed.  Reinfection is possible with another tick bite by an infected tick. If left untreated, neurological problems can develop, including meningitis, and heart rhythm disturbance.

To prevent a tick from attaching itself to your skin wear clothes that covers your skin. Spray your skin and clothes with an insect spray that contains 20-30% DEET.  Try to stay away from wooded, grassy areas.  Check yourself and your pets for ticks when you return indoors. If you find a tick remove it with tweezers near the head.

Make sure you seek medical attention if you start having symptoms after a tick bite, you have an irregular heartbeat, nerve pain, and your face feels numb.