San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

Your Health | Sponsored by the Heart Center at CTMC

February 2015 | Volume I, Issue 1

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SPECIAL TO THE MERCURY

As summer drew to a close, David Rhoads, Jr. and his son, Jonathan Rhoads, were completing an outdoor task on their 5-acre property between San Marcos and Wimberley.

“He runs circles around me,” Jonathan said. “He always has a project going on.”

Suddenly, David experienced an all-too-familiar aching and burning sensation in the back of his neck. The symptoms mirrored a past cardiac event that resulted in several stents. He hoped the unexpected danger signs would fade with a nap, but his wife, Rebecca Rhoads, had different plans.

“I just said, ‘let’s go,’” she said. “I knew we could get (to the hospital) quicker than an ambulance could get to us.”

The Rhoads family resides a few miles down a rocky dirt road in rural Hays County, their home nestled beyond a few locked gates. Jonathan drove as fast as he could, weaving in and out of traffic to bring his father to the Central Texas Medical Center (CTMC) Emergency Room.

“A lot of times when you go to the (emergency) room, you dread the thought of it because you know you’re going to be there for hours, and this wasn’t the case,” David said. “They took me immediately into the room and did an EKG.”

Dr. Anthony Cedrone, who had recently moved to San Marcos to serve as CTMC’s full-time interventional cardiologist, entered the room to tell the Rhoads family that David Jr.’s EKG was not normal.

“He told us, ‘I think you’re having a…’, and before he could finish his sentence my dad flat-lined,” Jonathan said. “I couldn’t believe what I just saw. I didn’t think that would ever happen to him or in front of me.”

Jonathan recalls a swarm of doctors and nurses rushing to his father’s aid for a series of shock compressions.

“Watching the staff and how they took care of him, I knew that he would be okay, even though he flat-lined,” Jonathan said. “I knew that he was going to come back. I just had faith in everything that was going on.”

CTMC’s emergency medical team was able to bring David Jr. back to stability, and Dr. Cedrone put two stents in his heart.

Miles down the highway in San Antonio, David Rhoads, III felt his phone vibrating in his pocket but was busy during his first day back to work at Judson Independent School District. When he returned to his office, the secretary gave him the message that his father had suffered a heart attack. “When I started driving over here, I started praying as hard as I could. I wasn’t ready to lose my dad,” he said.

Upon arrival to CTMC, Dr. Cedrone immediately brought David III up to speed on his father’s condition and led the family into the CTMC Cardiac Catheterization Lab to explain in detail the steps he was taking to save David Jr.’s life. “He went the extra mile, and for me that did a lot because I’m very visual,” David III said.

Mary Routh, David Jr.’s sister, also rushed to the hospital when she heard the news about her brother, who she calls her best friend. “I couldn’t ask for a more considerate person than Dr. Cedrone. He’s very personable, very loving, friendly and very concise,” she said. “We are family, and we are glad that Central Texas Medical Center is here to take care of us.”

Although he wasn’t aware of CTMC’s interventional cardiology program at the time of his heart attack, David Jr. calls the technology a blessing.

“There are times that I’ve heard, ‘Go to Kyle’ or ‘Go to Austin,’ but that’s really not the case,” David Jr. said. “This is a good, good facility. The quality of care I got I would say is as good as anywhere I could have gone. I’m glad to know they’re here.”

Interactive: Are you at risk for a heart attack? Take our quiz?

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28 Days to a Healthier Heart

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Day 1
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Day 1

February 1, 2015
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Squat it out. Do 1 minute of squats.
Day 2
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Day 2

February 2, 2015
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Make a heart healthy snack for the Big Game.
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Day 3

February 3, 2015
Day 3
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Sign up for our National Wear Red Day Thunderclap!
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Day 4

February 4, 2015
Day 4
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Schedule your annual physical.
Day 5
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Day 5

February 5, 2015
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Visit Smokefree.gov to take the first step in quitting smoking.
Day 6
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Day 6

February 6, 2015
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Make today a salt-free day. Use herbs for flavor instead of salt.
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Day 7

February 7, 2015
Day 7
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Sport red today for National Wear Red Day.
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Day 8

February 8, 2015
Day 8
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Go for the gold! Walk an extra 15 minutes today.
Day 9
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Day 9

February 9, 2015
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Plan your menu for the week with heart healthy recipes.
Day 10
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Day 10

February 10, 2015
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Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity today.
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Day 11

February 11, 2015
Day 11
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Calculate your body mass index (BMI).
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Day 12

February 12, 2015
Day 12
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Share your favorite inspirational quote with The Heart Truth®.
Day 13
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Day 13

February 13, 2015
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Give the elevator a day off and take the stairs.
Day 14
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Day 14

February 14, 2015
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Protect your sweetheart’s heart: Plan a heart healthy date.
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Day 15

February 15, 2015
Day 15
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Saturday Night Fever! Dance to your favorite song.
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Day 16

February 16, 2015
Day 16
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Stress less. Practice mindful meditation for 10 minutes.
Day 17
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Day 17

February 17, 2015
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Give Meatless Monday a try.
Day 18
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Day 18

February 18, 2015
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Add a stretch break to your calendar to increase your flexibility.
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Day 19

February 19, 2015
Day 19
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Swap the sweets for a piece of fruit for dessert.
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Day 20

February 20, 2015
Day 20
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Share a funny video or joke that makes you laugh.
Day 21
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Day 21

February 21, 2015
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Head to bed with enough time to get a full 8 hours of sleep.
Day 22
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Day 22

February 22, 2015
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Call three relatives and ask about your family health history.
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Day 23

February 23, 2015
Day 23
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Do the jumping jacks for every U.S. Gold Medal!
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Day 24

February 24, 2015
Day 24
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Take out a tape measure and find out the size of your waist.
Day 25
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Day 25

February 25, 2015
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March in place for 3 minutes to get your heart going.
Day 26
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Day 26

February 26, 2015
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Make half of your lunch and dinner plates vegetables.
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Day 27

February 27, 2015
Day 27
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See how many push-ups you can do in one minute.
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Day 28

February 28, 2015
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Pay it forward and tell a friend about The Heart Truth.

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Control your blood pressure before it controls you

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SPECIAL TO THE MERCURY

Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is a constant battle for some people, but it is a fight that they shouldn’t have to face on their own.

There are a network of professionals, family members and friends all ready to help you reach and sustain your health goals.

Team up

Two minds are often better than one when trying to tackle any major issue. The same is true for anyone seeking expert medical advice related to keeping their blood pressure at a safe level.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends a team-based care approach for blood pressure control, meaning a physician supported by a pharmacist, dietician, nurse and/or a community health worker.

This multi-faceted approach, the task force suggests, improves the management of major cardiovascular risk factors in outpatients, as opposed to a single physician alone.

Talk to your physician

Your physician is a wealth of information when it comes to finding ways to beat high blood pressure. He or she can provide diet and exercise tips that are customized to your body and medical history.

If you have issues keeping your numbers down through healthy diet and physical activity, your physician can prescribe specific medicines targeted at mitigating high rates.

It is important to be transparent with your doctor about your eating, smoking and drinking habits if you want effective results. The more they know, the more they can help you stay healthy.

Keep a journal

We all need help remembering things sometimes. Medication schedules, blood pressure measurements and doctor’s appointments, for example, can be hard to keep track of when you’re busy with daily life.

A journal can help you keep notes on all of these important items and more.

It can also be a valuable tool in sharing your medical history and concerns with your doctor, providing a solid source of crucial, up-to-date information.

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Stroke can’t be wishes away. Know the warning signs.

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SPECIAL TO THE MERCURY

Stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States, and if you’ve had heart issues in the past, you may be at greater risk.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked or bursts. This cuts off vital blood and oxygen to the brain and causes cells to die.

People who have had heart attacks may be at increased risk for stroke, which is also linked to hereditary factors and lifestyle choices. It is important to act quickly if you feel that you or someone else is experiencing a stroke.

“Time lost is brain lost,” says the slogan of the American Heart Association.

Be sure to make note of what time the symptoms start, as this information could be crucial to medical professionals.

The American Stroke Association wants people to remember the acronym FAST for situations involving a potential stroke. Read what each letter stands for below, and remember to always call 911 immediately if you see these signs and symptoms.

Face drooping: If either side of the face is drooping or numb, it’s time to call 911. The American Stroke Association advises that if it is hard to display a straight smile, then face drooping is probably occurring.

Arm weakness: Strokes can cause weakness or numbness in the arms, making it difficult to raise them. Don’t brush this issue off as common aches and pains, like so many stroke victims in the past have done.

Speech difficulty: Slurred and hard-to-understand speech are definite warning signs of a stroke. If repeating a simple phrase like “How are you today?” is difficult, a stroke could be taking place. Don’t spend very much time assessing the situation, call 911 immediately.

Ttime to call 911: Even if any of the above symptoms go away, call 911 immediately if you think either you or someone else may be having a stroke.

Other symptoms

Remembering the FAST acronym is a great place to start, but you should also be aware of other symptoms of strokes.

They include sudden numbness or weakness of the leg, sudden confusion, sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, dizziness, loss of balance and severe headache with no known cause. Do not wait for these symptoms to dispel; seek immediate medical attention.

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How stress weighs heavy on the heart

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SPECIAL TO THE MERCURY

How do you react to a stressful situation? Do you shut down or lash out? Take to unhealthy habits to deal with the pressure building up inside of you?

How you handle life challenges can have a major impact on factors that have been proven to negatively impact your heart health.

Stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk, including high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating. So step back and take a deep breath — for your heart’s sake.

Overall body impact

Bodies react to stress in different ways. You may experience a headache, back strain or even stomach pains if you’re stressed out. Your energy level can be greatly reduced and your sleeping patterns disturbed.

All of these factors can set off a chain of events that leads to a potentially compromised cardiovascular system.

When you’re stressed, your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that temporarily causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. Depending upon how long you’re stressed, your body may experience this set of circumstances off and on for days at a time.

And although the link between stress and heart disease isn’t clearly defined by organizations like the American Heart Association, chronic stress may cause some people to depend on unhealthy lifestyle habits, like drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure and may damage artery walls.

Dealing with stress

Managing stress is a challenge, but a necessity if you hope to be a picture of good health. A few studies cited by the American Heart Association have examined how well treatment or therapies work in reducing the effects of stress on cardiovascular disease, and the results have shown positive links.

The best place to start when dealing with your stress is a qualified professional. Speak to your physician about how you’re feeling. They will be able to refer you to a specialist who can offer effective treatment or preventive strategies.

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Interactive: Six factors that make women more prone to heart disease

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FROM THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH

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Simple health screenings can keep you heart ticking

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SPECIAL TO THE MERCURY

You know the risk factors associated with heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood glucose.

But how do you know which risk factors you have? Enter heart health screenings. All regular cardiovascular screening tests should begin at age 20, according to American Heart Association.

The frequency of follow-up will depend on you risk levels and the strategy your physician recommends.

Regular screening can help you detect risk factors in their earliest stages, allowing plenty of time for lifestyle changes or medication that can reduce the chance for heart disease. Check the list below to see what screenings you should be taking.

Blood pressure

High blood pressure generally has no symptoms and cannot be found without measurement. That’s why it is labeled the silent killer.

Sixty-eight million Americans (one in three) have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it is important to monitor because of its link to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.

Cholesterol

The American Heart Association recommends that you undergo fasting lipoprotein testing every five years starting at age 20. This blood test measures total cholesterol – both bad and good – and triglycerides.

Men over 45 and women over 50 may need to be tested more frequently, as could people with other cardiovascular risk factors. Things like high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides can be improved through changes to diet, exercise and medication.

Blood glucose

High blood glucose levels put people at a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which can increase the chance of heart disease and stroke.

Check with your doctor about undergoing a blood glucose test, especially if you are 45 or older. The American Heart Association urges people to have their level checked at least every three years.

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