Showing posts with label heart health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heart health. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ask an Expert: Which Drugs May Be Dangerous for Heart Health?


This post is part of our “Ask an Expert” blog series. In this post, Ken Majkowski, Pharm.D and Chief Pharmacy Officer at FamilyWize, identifies several medications that should be used with care by patients with heart failure. Ken brings more than 40 years of healthcare experience to the FamilyWize team, including 14 years of clinical pharmacy experience in retail, hospital and home care. Read his full bio, here.

In the U.S., more than 1 in 3 adults have cardiovascular diseases. On average, heart failure patients take 6.8 prescription medications per day, resulting in 10.1 doses a day. This estimate does not include over-the-counter medications or alternative treatments.

It is important to note, however, that not all medications are safe for those with cardiovascular diseases. Some commonly used drugs have specifically been identified as potentially dangerous for those with an existing heart condition.

Anesthesia Medications
We know that most anesthetics interfere with cardiovascular performance. While generally very safe for the average person, anesthesia for surgical procedures can be dangerous for patients with heart failure. A recent study observed a 63 percent increased risk of operative mortality and a 51 percent greater risk of being readmitted to the hospital among patients with heart failure compared with patients without heart failure or coronary artery disease. It is critical for all patients to have a comprehensive discussion about their health with their anesthesiologist before going under anesthesia, no matter how routine the procedure.

Pain Medications
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve, Naproxen), and cyclogenase-2 inhibitors (celecoxib, Celebrex) are used very widely in the United States and generally considered to be very safe. Unfortunately, they are less safe for people who already have cardiovascular disease.

NSAIDs can cause the body to retain sodium. Excess sodium causes the body to retain more fluid and forces your heart to work harder. This can be a major problem for people with heart failure, making it critical for heart patients to speak with a doctor before taking NSAIDs for any length of time. Additionally, chronic or heavy use of NSAIDs can also cause chronic kidney disease, another reason to monitor their use.

Diabetes Medications
There are a handful of medications for the treatment of diabetes that should either be avoided or carefully monitored by anyone with concern for their heart health. Specifically, Avandia (rosiglitazone) and Actos (pioglitazone) have both been identified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as potentially increasing the risk of heart failure, and their use is limited to people whose diabetes is not well controlled by other medications. Both drugs can cause fluid retention, similar to NSAIDs, which causes stress on the heart.

If you have a cardiovascular disease, please be sure to discuss each and every medication you use with your doctor, including over-the-counter medications or alternative medications. These conversations are important and can help to keep you safe.

Sources:


Monday, February 15, 2016

Top Tips for Heart Health


February is National Heart Month, a smart time to check your heart health and assess the degree to which your lifestyle is affecting your risk of heart attack, heart disease or stroke, and make positive changes for better cardiovascular health.

How?

Good heart health is all about the basics: diet, exercise and genetics.
  • Diet: What you put into your body
  • Exercise: What you do, or don’t do, when it comes to physical activity
  • Genetics: Your family history
While you cannot redefine your genetic history, you have the ability to influence your own health and longevity by making smart lifestyle choices, and using what you know about your background to improve your odds. Let’s look at each of these three factors in terms of strengthening your heart and reducing your risk of heart disease.


Diet 

Dietitians and other experts recommend reducing your sodium (salt) intake to less than 1,500 mg/day. Other heart-healthy diet recommendations include eating lots of high-fiber foods, foods with omega-6 fatty acids (nuts, seeds, certain oils), and oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout).
 
Foods to avoid include those with low nutrients, foods that are high in saturated fats (red meat, whole-fat dairy, egg yolks), fast food (which often is high in trans fats) and limiting alcohol to just a drink or two per day. 

For a more complete list of heart-healthy foods see University of Maryland Medical Center’s heart healthy diet list.

Exercise

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends regular physical activity to reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and heart disease. AHA’s recommendation is to get “at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.” 
 
An easy-to-remember and effective plan is 30 min./day for 5 days/week. If your schedule or current health condition makes the thought of doing a daily 30-minute routine overwhelming, you can break that 30 minutes up into two or three daily sessions of just 10-15 minutes each for positive results. 
 
These levels will, for most people, ensure good maintenance of heart health. But if you need to also lower your blood pressure or reduce bad cholesterol levels, shoot instead for at least 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise for 3-to-4 days/week. Try walking, running, swimming or biking – as these exercises naturally maintain an elevated heart rate for an extended time.
 
For more recommendations on heart-healthy physical activity, check out AHA’s Heart-Healthy Recommendations for Physical Activity.

Genetics

Your genetic background – your family tree and racial/geographic roots – can influence your risk of heart disease. But two recent studies from Northwestern Medicine suggest that a healthy lifestyle of good diet and exercise is far more influential in reducing your risk of heart disease:
  • A 2010 study showed that cardiovascular health in middle age and beyond is less a gift from your genes and more earned by a healthy lifestyle.
  • A second study showed that only a small percent of cardiovascular health is passed from parent to child; the bulk of negative or positive cardiovascular health resulted from lifestyle behaviors.
That said, if incidences of heart disease or stroke are in your family, the AHA cautions that your own risks are higher. So while knowing your family’s health history can help you avoid a heart attack or stroke, the AHA agrees that you can reduce your risk by making heart-healthy lifestyle changes.


Live Healthy. Live Smart.
- FamilyWize


Ric Moxley 
Contributing Writer


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Share the Love with FamilyWize



How appropriate that February brings us both Valentine’s Day and National Heart Month. We celebrate the heart’s passion as well as the heart’s importance to our overall wellness.

For both reasons – emotional and physical heart health – we at FamilyWize have launched the Share the Love initiative.

Share the Love, running throughout the first half of February, seeks to raise awareness of heart health as well as the savings potential of the free FamilyWize prescription savings card. In 2015, FamilyWize helped 350,000+ cardholders save more than $29 million on heart medications alone!

We encourage you to show your love for family and friends by telling them about the free FamilyWize prescription savings card. Giving the gift of chocolates in February is popular, but why not also give a gift that will save your loved ones an average of 36 percent on heart medications all year long?!


Share the Love

To help you share the love with your friends and family, here’s what you'll need to know:
  • The FamilyWize prescription discount care is free, whether or not you have health insurance.  
  • The card is accepted at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide, including all major chains.
  • The card comes with unlimited use, which means that the savings can be substantial for those who are on regular, ongoing medication use.
  • The card covers all FDA-approved prescription medications.
  • The card provides an average of 43% savings on all prescription medication retail prices, and an average of 36% on heart meds (based on FY 2015).
  • In total, FamilyWize has helped more than 9 million people save more than $900 million dollars on prescription medications.
  • You can get your FamilyWize card by printing it from FamilyWize.org, by calling 1-866-810-3784 or by downloading the free FamilyWize app.
  • Getting your prescription discount is as simple as showing the card to your pharmacist - every time.
  • Always  carry your FamilyWize prescription savings card with you to the pharmacy, to ensure you are always receiving the lowest price.
All of this information is available with our sharable Valentine's Day e-card, which you can get at www.FamilyWize.org/SharetheLove, through February 15, or click the first link below. The “Share the Love” Valentine’s Day e-card includes the FamilyWize prescription savings card.

 GET THE CARD               SHARE WITH OTHERS
 
There are many ways to share the message, including posting it on Facebook, sharing it on Twitter, or send the message by e-mail.
  
Hashtag the Love!

We will be sharing tips and advice for better heart health and savings on social media using #SharetheLove throughout the month, so look for those messages too!

Learn more at www.FamilyWize.org/SharetheLove.

Live Healthy. Live Smart.
-FamilyWize

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cholesterol – Know Your Numbers


cholesterol high cholesterol
© Xaoc | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
As the fall weather edges closer, special health months remind us of important aspects of our well being. September is National Cholesterol Education Month, a great time to learn about heart health. Keeping cholesterol levels in check gives us a healthier outlook for avoiding heart disease and stroke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 6 Americans has high cholesterol. I didn’t know it was so common until my dad told me he was cutting down on things like bacon and cheese. He said he had to keep an eye on his cholesterol. At that moment, I realized just how common cholesterol issues are for many families.

Heart disease and stroke are risks for people with high cholesterol. I'm proud of my dad for watching his dietary cholesterol. If you are concerned about cholesterol, check with your doctor. A simple blood test can give you your numbers. Ask questions and learn what you can do to control cholesterol. Simple changes in diet may be all you need. However, if your doctor feels you need medication to control cholesterol be sure to take them as prescribed.

What Is Cholesterol

If you are unfamiliar with cholesterol, you may wonder, what is cholesterol, what is high cholesterol or what is good cholesterol. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute defines cholesterol as “a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body.” High cholesterol may cause artery walls to have a buildup of cholesterol clogging the passageways. If blood flow is clogged or slowed, the patient is at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

Not all cholesterol is bad, though. High density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered good cholesterol while low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is considered bad cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is good because it takes cholesterol from different parts of your body and transports it to the liver where it is removed from your body. LDL cholesterol is bad because it clogs the arteries, restricts the flow of blood, and puts you at risk for a variety of heart conditions, including coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, carotid artery disease, and stroke, to name just a few.

However, there is new research that suggests that not all LDL cholesterol is bad or even a risk factor for heart disease.

Cholesterol Numbers

Ideal cholesterol numbers change with age. Normal cholesterol numbers for one person may be considered very high for another, often depending on their health. According to WebMD, an LDL level below 100 is ideal for most people

LDL Cholesterol:
  • Less than 100 – Optimal
  • 100-129 – Near optimal / above optimal
  • 130-159 – Borderline high
  • 160-189 – High
  • 190 and above – Very high
HDL Cholesterol:
  • 60 and above – High / optimal; lower risks
  • Less than 40 in men and less than 50 in women – Low; considered a risk factor for heart disease
Triglycerides are also important when measuring cholesterol. The chemical form of fat stored in the body, triglycerides are calories your body doesn’t need to convert to energy right away.

The Mayo Clinic shares the following numbers for triglycerides:
  • Normal: Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or less than 1.7 millimoles per L (mmol/L) 
  • Borderline high: 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
  • High: 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L) 
  • Very high: 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above) 
The American Heart Association (AHA) advises that 100mg/dL or lower is preferred to lower risks and improve heart health.

Eating a healthier diet, watching your cholesterol, getting some fresh air and good exercise, and of course, taking any medications as prescribed by your doctor are all the things you can do to live a healthier life. The FamilyWize prescription drug card may help lower the cost of your prescriptions. On average, patients have saved 40% oh cholesterol drugs. Even if you have prescription coverage, FamilyWize may be able to help. Search for your prescription medication here and see how much you can save today.

If you have loved ones watching their cholesterol, as I do, keep their dietary requirements in mind when you invite them over for dinner. Be sure to take on the role of cheerleader, too, encouraging that great behavior when it comes to watching those cholesterol numbers.

Do your own research, read about new advances in medicine and health topics and talk to your doctor about what you are doing right and what you can be doing better, and differently, for your health.

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nutrition in a Nut-Shell

"Nuts" - it is a loaded word.  It could be referring to a state of mind or a behavior or action, but today I am going to look at nuts in its simplest form - a bountiful food full of nutrition and health benefits.  

It is no coincidence that nuts are either a morning or afternoon snack for me. In fact, as I am writing, I just grabbed a handful out of the jar that sits on my desk.  These are raw almonds, but I enjoy just about every flavor of nut from walnuts to the sweet pecan to cashews, macadamia, peanuts, and more.  Why?  Because the nutritional value in tree nuts and peanuts is tremendous.  They are a perfect, bite-sized power snack.  You may call me a raw health "nut", but I'm okay with that.

health nut nutritional facts
One handful a day is all you need!
Did you know that nuts are considered a fruit or drupe?  And in the case of the peanut - a legume?  Whatever you call them - they are full of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and unsaturated fats. 

Nuts sometimes get a bad wrap due to the high caloric content of this small delicacy, but in fact they are one of the healthiest foods you can eat.  From heart health to Type 2 diabetes to obesity and cancer prevention, the nutritional value of nuts is great.  We may not be able to control health care, diseases, water, and the environment, but we can take the information on nutrition found in nuts and take small steps to learning how these tasty essential nutrients may have a profound impact on our health.

Just a few nutty studies include:
  • Human Research Center on Aging study as posted on the United States Department of Agriculture website, concluded that antioxidants found in nuts due to their high polyphenol benefits have positive effects against chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and diabetes.  
  • The Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition also touts the antioxidant and phytonutrient benefits of resveratrol, phytosertols and beta-sitosterol found in peanuts and tree nuts.
  • In 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a statement that 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts may reduce the risk of heart disease.  
  • The University of Nebraska published an article "NUTS for Nutrition" which references studies by the International Journal of Obesity for weight control, and a Harvard School of Public Health study for helping with Type 2 diabetes.  
The nutritional facts about walnuts, almonds, peanuts and the many other tree nuts include a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids for fighting inflammation, iron and zinc which delivers oxygen to your cells and can prevent anemia, heart healthy monounsaturated fat (macadamias have the highest MUFA), which help with cholesterol and heart health, while selenium and the antioxidant gamma-tocopherol have certain cancer fighting properties (Journal of Medicinal Food and University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center).  

Wondering what are the tree nuts?  The FDA list of tree nuts includes:
Almond, beech nut, Brazil nut, butternut, cashew, chestnut, Chinquapin, coconut, gingkgo nut, hazelnut (filbert), hickory nut, macadamia nut, pecan, Pili nut, pine nut, pistachio, shea nut, and the oh so beneficial walnut.

Incorporating nuts into your diet as a snack may give your body some of the advanced essential nutrients you might otherwise be missing.  Try it - you might just like it!

No matter how you crack it - tell us which nut is your favorite and how you like to eat it.

Donna Cornelius
Online Marketing Manager

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Don't Pill'fer Your Medications Potency This Summer

 "Store Medications at Room Temperature"


Those four words are etched on most pill bottle labels, but how many of us travel with temperature-sensitive medications follow those words? 


Temperature Medications Sensitive
Medications left in car can lose potency.
Summer is here, which means higher temperatures, vacation travel  and the potential for compromising medications that require a temperature controlled environment.

We all do it:  leave the inhaler in the glove box; the insulin bottle slips between the seats; and those nitroglycerin tablets fell out of the blazer pocket when thrown in the back seat. 

Leaving medications that are sensitive to heat does more than simply warm them.  When prescription medications are left at above room temperatures, like in a hot car, it affects how potent and effective the drug is.  During peak summer months, interior car temperatures can reach over 110 degrees, which well exceeds the 72 degree room temperature typical for medications. 

Here are a few tips on how to travel smarter with your temperature sensitive medications:

1.  Don't leave medications in your car when you're not. Think of them as a pet- you wouldn't leave a dog in a hot car, would you?! Don't leave them to sweat it out in the trunk either, but somewhere air circulates to keep a safe temperature.

2.  Certain prescription drugs are more susceptible to heat than others and require a controlled temperature
  • Insulin, which is used to treat diabetes patients, degrades very quickly when exposed to heat and should never be left in a car.  According to the American Diabetes Association, current bottles of insulin should be stored at room temperature and extra bottles can be stored in the fridge.  It should never be stored in the freezer, in direct sunlight, or in the glove compartment of a vehicle. 
  • Nitroglycerin, used by those who have heart conditions, is affected very quickly by heat.  According to Drugs.com, Nitroglycerin is to be stored at room temperature and away from heat, moisture, and light. 
  • Inhalers, a device used to treat Asthma, contain medicine in a pressurized can.  According to Proventil, a brand of asthma inhaler, exposure to temperatures above 120°F may cause bursting. 
  • Epicene, used for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), is another drug that should not be exposed to heat.  According to Drugs.com, EpiPens should be stored at room temperatures, not refrigerated or frozen, and stored away from heat, light, and moisture.  Brief storage at temperatures between 59 and 86 degrees is permitted.
3.  Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if your medication is able to be refrigerated.  Depending on the medication, sticking your medications in a cooler usually has a lesser affect on medication than heat.  Find a cooler with a strap so you can tote it around on your shoulder to shield your medications from the heat and sun.

4.  Before you down your medicine, be sure to check the anatomy of your medicine.  If it comes in the form of a capsule or pill, double check to make sure they aren't stuck together or wilted.  If your pills don't look the same after they were exposed to heat, it's probably best to check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if they are still safe to consume.

5.  If traveling on a plane, do not check your prescription drugs with your luggage. Most cargo holds are not climate controlled so the potency of your pills cannot be guaranteed.  Throw your pills in your carry on bag - that way you know they are safe. 

6.  Most pharmacies will provide a one time replacement for incidents like these.  Check with your insurance company, or drug manufacturer to see if it will replace your medicine.  If your insurance company will not provide a replacement for your overheated med and you have to purchase it at retail price, print out a FamilyWize Card and take it to one of our participating pharmacies.  Eight out of ten times, FamilyWize can give you a discount on your FDA approved medication.

Of course, only your doctor or pharmacist can provide professional advice on effective ways to store medications.

So, who else is guilty of leaving their medications in a summery place? Comment to share your PILLfered potency story!

Krysta W.