Heart disease affects one in 4; could you be one of them?

Dr. McElroyYou may realize you should lose a few pounds, quit smoking, exercise more or stop eating so many sweets. But did you know those lifestyle choices put you at real risk for heart disease? And that’s serious business because heart disease is the nation’s leading killer.

Even though heart disease affects 26.6 million Americans, those lives could be improved dramatically if we’d change our habits.

Coronary heart disease occurs when blood vessels to the heart muscle do not function normally. The risk for heart disease can increase when heredity is combined with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking cigarettes and eating a poor diet. Other risk factors include physical inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol use, high blood pressure and cholesterol and diabetes.

We can’t change our family history but we can eat healthier, exercise and make good lifestyle choices. Commit to make the following six steps to reform your health:

Weight control

Obesity is on the rise, and so are weight-related health problems. Achieve a healthy weight and maintain it. Additional health risks associated with weight gain include stroke, diabetes and even some cancers.

Exercise daily

Try to exercise 60 minutes every day or walk at least 10,000 steps a day. Walking is easy and inexpensive. All it requires is a pair of shoes and a place to go.

Quit smoking

Smoking is dangerous to your health. A recent report in the American Heart Journal said people smoking three or fewer cigarettes a day had about a 65 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those smoking none. Two-thirds of smokers have tobacco-related diseases.

Limit alcohol

Drink no more than the equivalent of one glass of wine a day.

Eat right

Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Control portion size and focus on fruit and vegetables. The Mediterranean style diet is best.

Heart attack symptoms

If you experience heart attack symptoms, you should call 911. They can begin slowly with mild pain or be sudden or intense. Other symptoms include:

  • Any chest pain (crushing or pressure) lasting 15 minutes or longer
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

Baptist Health Paducah was recently named a Cycle IV Chest Pain Center with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) designation by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care. The hospital was the region’s first accredited chest pain center in 2008 and has continued to meet high standards for re-accreditation twice since then.

Local chest pain hotline: 1-800-575-1911

For help identifying signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, phone our Chest Pain and Stroke Hotline at 1-800-575-1911 to speak with a local registered nurse.

–        Cardiologist Bradley McElroy, MD

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Minimally invasive surgery provides options for women

Blair TolarAre you a woman living with pelvic pain because you don’t want to face surgery?

The first step is to make an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause of your pain.

March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month. It is estimated 10 to 20 percent of reproductive-age women in the U.S. suffer from the condition, when the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus. A gynecologist can determine if your chronic pelvic pain is caused by endometriosis.

Other conditions, ranging from incontinence to cancer, may require surgical treatment; but many gynecological procedures no longer require a large abdominal incision or long hospital stays.

Baptist Health Paducah offers several minimally invasive gynecology surgery options for procedures, ranging from pelvic organ prolapse repair to hysterectomy.

Prolapse repair

Pelvic organ prolapse happens to about one-third of all women. It refers to the drooping of pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus and vagina. Common causes include pregnancy and childbirth, obesity, respiratory problems with a chronic cough and hysterectomy.

Robotic surgery can repair pelvic organ prolapse, using soft synthetic mesh to support pelvic organs that have slipped out of their normal positions. The minimally invasive surgery generally takes only one to two hours. Another minimally invasive option for pelvic organ prolapse is done vaginally. During this surgery, the top of the vagina is attached to the lower abdominal wall, the lower back or pelvis ligaments.  

Incontinence repair

Women experience incontinence – the accidental release of urine – twice as often as men. It can be caused by childbirth, weight gain or other conditions that stretch the pelvic muscles, and can occur from sneezing, laughing and coughing. Surgery is often the best treatment.

Outpatient procedures for incontinence include a “sling” procedure with a small incision in the vagina and two smaller ones in the lower pelvic area. The procedure involves placing a sling around the urethra to lift it back into a normal position.

Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy, the removal of the uterus, may be necessary to treat a variety of conditions, including non-cancerous and cancerous tumors.

Baptist Health Paducah became the first hospital in the region to implement the da Vinci Surgical System for hysterectomies, ovarian cysts and other abdominal problems.

Robotic surgery, a type of laparoscopic hysterectomy, offers a smaller incision, less scarring and quicker recovery. This allows patients to get back to work much quicker than the traditional abdominal hysterectomy. They often return to work in two weeks, while recovery time for a traditional hysterectomy is normally six weeks.

Talk to our nurses

For regular updates about women’s Health, be sure to follow Baptist Health Women’s Choice on Facebook.  If you have a question about different surgical options, ask our nurses at Baptist Health Line 24 hours a day at 270.575.2918.

– Blair Tolar, MD, obstetrician/gynecologist

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Colon cancer is preventable

GHP-3849What if you could prevent cancer? The good news is colon cancer may be prevented or cured if detected early with regular screenings.

The bad news is many people don’t take advantage of life-saving screenings.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the nation, with the mortality rate in Kentucky among the highest, killing nearly 900 people each year. Colon cancer rates in our region are higher than the national average.

Are you at risk?

People with colon polyps or early-stage colon cancer often have no symptoms. For that reason, the American Cancer Society recommends that adults 50 and older should be screened with colonoscopy. Screenings should start at 40 if you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps.

A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your colon. It helps find colon polyps, tumors and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected and abnormal growths can be taken out.

Risk factors associated with colon cancer include family history, diet low in vegetables, excessive alcohol use, tobacco use, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Colon cancer symptoms include rectal bleeding, change in bowel frequency or stool size, unexplained anemia or weight loss, fatigue, persistent abdominal pain and frequent vomiting.

The Incredible Colon

You have the unique opportunity to see what a healthy colon looks like, and how polyps and cancer form, during The Incredible Colon community exhibit 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, in the atrium of Doctors Office Building 2 at Baptist Health Paducah.

The Incredible Colon is a 20-foot inflatable, interactive and educational exhibit that provides visitors with an opportunity to learn about colon cancer, including risks, prevention, early detection and treatment. Free screening kits will be available for the first 200 visitors assessed to have high risk for colon cancer.

If you have questions about colon cancer or colonoscopy, phone Baptist Health Line at 270.575.2918.

–        Oncologist Charles Winker, MD

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Baptist Health Paducah offers team approach to heart valve disease

BosemugBaptist Health Paducah, the heart hospital our region prefers 3 to 1, offers a new team approach to treating heart valve disease.

Heart valve disease, any condition involving the four valves of the heart, affects five million Americans each year. Disease occurs when any of the heart’s valves either can’t open well enough to let blood flow through or can’t close well enough to prevent backflow of the blood.

If left untreated, valve disease gets worse and leads to heart failure, affecting quality of life and longevity. Patients with severe heart valve disease have a shorter life expectancy, so prompt treatment is critical.

If you’ve ever been told you have a heart murmur or a heart valve problem, you should speak to your doctor, who can refer you to our valve clinic for diagnostic testing.

A team approach
Baptist Health Paducah offers a coordinated team of cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons to help patients get the best treatment early, so they can continue their active lifestyles.
If the patient is considered a good candidate for surgery, he or she could have the valve repaired with a minimally invasive technique and then return to normal activity, which wouldn’t be possible if the disease is left untreated.

Brunch Bunch

You can learn more about valve disease and treatments when my colleagues – cardiologist Kenneth Ford, MD, and cardiothoracic surgeon Nicholas Lopez, MD – speak at the hospital’s free Brunch Bunch from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the Baptist Heart Center auditorium. Phone 270.575.2797 to register.

Also, mark your calendars for the annual Heart Health Fair from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 22, in the atrium of Doctors Office Building 2. Baptist staff will provide free blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol screenings. Fasting and advance registration are not required. Physicians and other providers will be available to answer questions.

If you’ve been diagnosed with valve disease, talk to our registered nurses 24/7 about options to improve your health. Phone Baptist Health Line at 270.575.2918.

–Cardiologist Sanjay Bose, MD, FACC

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Baptist Health Paducah stroke center is changing lives

Ashburn 043Why choose Baptist Health Paducah for your stroke care?

Baptist Health Paducah has the only certified stroke program in Kentucky west of Owensboro. It is certified by The Joint Commission as a primary stroke center and recently received the Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for stroke treatment from the American Heart and American Stroke associations.

Plus, Baptist Health has neuroscience specialists – neurosurgeons and neurologists – working together in the diagnosis and treatment for disease and disorders involving the nervous system.

Why is stroke education important?

Stroke is one of the nation’s leading killers and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Baptist focuses on public education, so people of all ages know they should call 9-1-1 immediately if they see anyone experiencing signs of a stroke. Time saved is brain saved, so if they seek immediate treatment, the effects of stroke may be reduced or even reversed.
A stroke occurs when blood flow is interrupted in the brain, either from a blood clot or bleeding into the brain. Each minute oxygen and nutrients are blocked by a stroke, 1.9 million brain cells die – the reason quick intervention to restore blood flow is crucial.

I’ve had the joy of watching stroke patients recover and return to their active lives because they acted quickly. They knew the symptoms and got to the Emergency department in time to be treated with the clot-dissolving drug tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), which can reduce long-term disability if given within three hours after a stroke starts.

If treated in time, tPA treatment can improve the likelihood that their damage will be less severe and sometimes can be returned back to their baseline state. Occasionally, we have even seen patients experience nearly-immediate reversal of speech loss and paralysis after being treated with tPA. While this is a rare occurrence, it can and does occur.

Risk factors
Risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, family history, high cholesterol, obesity and lack of exercise.
To determine if your symptoms indicate a stroke, keep F.A.S.T. in mind:
F=Face Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A=Arm Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S=Speech Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T=Time If you observe any of these signs, phone 9-1-1 because ambulance staff can expedite treatment.

If you have any questions about stroke symptoms, talk to a Baptist nurse any time at the Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline: 1.800.575.1911. A stroke support group meets from 3 to 4:30 p.m. the first Monday of each month in the Baptist Heart Center conference room. Phone Mary Legge, RN, at 270.575.2880 for more information or to register.

– Neurologist Joseph Ashburn, MD
Medical director of Baptist Health Paducah stroke center

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Could you be living with the ‘silent killer’?

GHP-0212It is estimated that more than one million people are living with undiagnosed abdominal aortic aneurysms. Could you be one of them?

At least 95 percent of these can be treated successfully if detected prior to a rupture. Baptist Health Paducah and Life Line Screening are partnering to find vascular disease and other conditions so they can be treated before they become life-threatening.

If you’re over 50, with risk factors like high blood pressure, obesity and smoking, these screenings could save your life, for example, by finding an abdominal aneurysm so it can be repaired before it ruptures.

What is abdominal aortic aneurysm?

Abdominal aortic aneurysm, also known as AAA, is the 13th leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for more than 15,000 deaths each year, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery.

An aneurysm in the abdominal aorta, the large artery running through the main trunk, occurs when a weak portion expands. The pressure from blood flowing through the aorta causes its weakened part to bulge, much like a balloon.

Screenings

Non-invasive ultrasound can detect an enlargement of the abdominal aorta; find plaque in the neck’s carotid arteries, which can lead to stroke by obstructing blood flow to the brain or breaking off and flowing to the brain; and estimate bone density. Other screenings use EKG to detect heart arrhythmia, which can lead to stroke; and the Ankle-Brachial Index for lower extremity vascular disease, a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.  

Upcoming screenings dates and locations are available, by appointment only:

  • Feb. 12 – 11 a.m., Joe Creason Community Building, Benton
  • Feb. 13 – 9 a.m., Caldwell County EMS, Princeton
  • Feb. 26 – 11 a.m., Memorial Baptist Church, Murray
  • Feb. 27 – 9 a.m., Cadiz United Methodist Church, Cadiz
  • March 12 – 11 a.m., Concord Christian Center, Paducah
  •  March 13 – 9 a.m., Lyon County Convention Center, Eddyville

Screenings are priced individually or in a package. Use code PBHP-001 for discounted prices at 877.237.1383 or www.lifelinescreening.com. Five screenings, plus a disease risk assessment, are $209 or the stroke and vascular package is $139.

For information, phone Baptist Health Line at 270.575.2918.

– Griffin Bicking, DO, vascular surgeon

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Get the right MRI the first time at Baptist Health Imaging

Dr. David SaxonNot all MRIs are the same.

When our patients need an MRI or other imaging services, we send them to Baptist Health Imaging for high-quality and fast results to avoid expensive re-testing.

It’s convenient for the patient with parking near the door of the outpatient center, located at 2705 Kentucky Ave., next door to Baptist Health Paducah.

It’s also fast, with same-day results from on-site radiologists, so patients and their doctors don’t have to wait long before moving to the next step of their treatment.

Most important, the nationally-accredited radiology services offer the best images available, so we get a clear look at their problem the first time. Avoiding repeat tests saves the patient time and money.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to allow physicians to explore the inner workings of the human body. MRI gives physicians high quality images to uncover stroke damage, assess spine and brain problems and even detect cancer in its earliest stages. But not all MRIs, especially older ones, offer the same quality, so it’s important to ask your doctor to go to a center with the latest technology.

The technology at Baptist offers fast scan times, so patients don’t have to lie still for as long and includes the comfort of an open MRI for larger and claustrophobic patients.

For information about Baptist Health Imaging, phone 270.415.7241 from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

William Conyer, MD, and I – along with experienced nurse practitioners – provide walk-in care at Baptist Health Prime Care when illnesses and non-life threatening emergencies show up unexpectedly. Prime Care is located on the main campus at 2501 Kentucky Ave., with designated parking. It is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. Phone: 270.415.4860.

– David Saxon, MD, family practice physician

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