A heart attack happens when there is a sudden blockage of an artery that supplies blood to an area of your heart.
As people age, the smooth inner walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart can become damaged and narrow due to the build-up of fatty materials called plaque.
When an area of plaque breaks, blood cells and other parts of the blood stick to the damaged area and form blood clots.
A heart attack occurs when a blood clot completely blocks the flow of blood and reduces blood flow to the heart muscle, resulting in chest pain.
Chest pain is commonly described by those who have had a heart attack. Some people describe it as a belt tightening around their chest or bad indigestion.
However, there are other symptoms that can alert you. The warning signs may not be what you think and can vary from person to person.
If you think you are having a heart attack, call Triple Zero (000) promptly and do not hang up. Ask the operator for an ambulance.
Once you are taken to hospital, the health care team will conduct some tests to find out if you are having a heart attack so they can decide the best course of treatment for you. These may include an electrocardiogram, blood tests, chest x-ray and coronary angiogram.
You may also need to have a procedure to prevent future problems like a stent implantation, angioplasty or bypass surgery.
LIVING A HEALTHY LIFE
Setting goals for your health is an important part of your recovery from a heart attack.
Medical treatments and healthy lifestyle choices can help you recover from a heart attack and greatly reduce the risk of problems later down the track.
It is important to look after yourself by staying active and following a healthy eating plan.
If you are overweight, it is also beneficial to reach and keep a healthy weight.
Smokers are also advised to give up the habit and reduce their exposure to second-hand smoke. It is best to speak to your doctor about what is best for you and your lifestyle situation.
Your doctor may also check your cholesterol and blood pressure on a regular basis and ask to screen you for diabetes as there is a correlation between the two chronic illnesses.
It is normal to feel many different emotions if you have a heart attack. Most of these feelings will reduce over time, however if they get worse, it is best to discuss this with your doctor.
For more information about heart health, visit www.heartfoundation.org.au or call the Heart Foundation Helpline on
13 11 12.
Did you know having and following an asthma action plan could prevent you from presenting at hospital?
A recent report commissioned by St.LukesHealth highlighted that in Tasmania, asthma is now among the top five reasons for potentially preventable hospitalisations in the 25 to 34 age group.
Statistics from the Australian Government Productivity Commission 2018 report on government services, shows that only 18 per cent of Tasmanians diagnosed with asthma between the ages of 25 and 44 had a written asthma plan in 2014-2015. This was higher for children zero to 14 years with 47.7 per cent having an action plan in the 2014-15 year.
What is asthma?
More than 2.5 million Australians have been diagnosed with asthma. This equates to one in 10 adults and one in nine children. Regardless of your age, anyone can have asthma.
Asthma and allergies are closely linked. Indoor and outdoor pollution, including moulds, gases, chemicals, particles and cigarette smoke can increase a person’s risk of developing the illness. But symptoms can also be trigged by colds and flu.
What causes asthma symptoms?
Asthma causes three main changes to the airways inside the lungs and all these can happen together.
What is an asthma plan?
An asthma action plan helps a person with asthma, or their carer, to recognise worsening asthma and what to do in response.
It is a written document that is based on symptoms.
The process for developing this action plan is done in consultation with your doctor. Once written, the plan assists a person with asthma or their carer take early action to prevent or reduce the severity of an attack.
Once this is completed, the asthma action plan is given to the person with asthma. Parents should give a copy of their child’s asthma action plan to their child’s school, pre-school or childcare facility.
What should the plan include?
All asthma plans should:
Many asthma action plans follow a traffic light system of green, amber and red to assess the severity of flare-ups, with green for under control and red for emergencies.
A response plan, which is part of the asthma action plan, should include:
The benefits of an asthma action plan?
Asthma action plans are one of the most effective asthma interventions available to people with asthma.
The plan helps to:
Now doesn’t that make you breathe easier!
Content contributed by: Asthma Foundation of Tasmania.
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with a least two in three people being diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.
It is estimated that if we reduce our lifetime exposure to UV radiation by 20 per cent, Australia would have about one third fewer cases of skin cancer. However, exposure to small amounts of sunlight is also beneficial for good health.
Recent research has shown that some Australians deliberately expose themselves to the sun over the warmer months because they are concerned about vitamin D deficiency.
So how much sunlight is enough given that sun exposure is the cause of around 99 per cent of all non-melanoma skin cancers and 95 per cent of melanomas in Australia?
When do I need sun protection?
Sun protection is required when the UV is three and above. In Tasmania, this is from the beginning of September through to the end of April. As the weather warms up and the UV index increases, it is important to protect yourself from the sun.
Sensible sun protection when the UV is at three or above does not put most Australians at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
To avoid skin damage, it is best to follow the below five steps:
1. SLIP on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
2. SLOP on some broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ (or greater) sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards, more frequently if you’re heavily sweating or towel drying. Apply at least a teaspoon of sunscreen for each limb, front and back of the body and half a teaspoon for the face, neck and ears.
3. SLAP on a hat – broad brim, bucket or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears is best. Caps and visors do not provide adequate protection and are not considered suitable.
4. SEEK SHADE from the sun wherever possible, especially between 10am and 3pm when the UV is at its peak.
5. SLIDE on some sunglasses that are polarised, close-fitting, wrap-around style of sunglasses and meet Australian standards.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D forms in the skin when it is exposed to UV radiation from the sun. We need vitamin D to maintain good health, particularly to keep bones and muscles strong.
The UV index is an international standard of measurement of the strength of UV radiation from the sun on a particular place on a particular day. UV levels are low in the early morning as the sun comes up, increasing around the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest. It then decreases as the sun gets lower in the sky.
When the skin is exposed to UV radiation from the sun, vitamin D is formed through a series of processes that start in the skin. You can’t see or feel UV radiation so it can be difficult to know when you need sun protection. Generally, you are safe if the level is below three, however it is recommended that if you work outside for long periods of time or near the water and snow that you apply sun protection.
In the northern parts of Australia, maximum daily UV levels are above three all year round, so sun protection is needed on a daily basis. In southern parts of the country, there are times of year when sun protection is generally not required.
When UV levels are three or above, most people need just a few minutes of sun exposure, such as walking from the office to get lunch, to get enough vitamin D. When UV levels fall below three, you can maintain your vitamin D intake by spending short periods outdoors and being physically active.
The Bureau of Meteorology reports its SunSmart UV Alert daily on its website.
The Cancer Council also offers a UV Index widget for business websites around Australia, or alternatively, the free SunSmart app for mobile phones is available from Google Play or the App store.
For more information about skin cancer, UV radiation and being smart in the sun, visit http://www.cancertas.org.au/
Contributed: Cancer Council Tasmania
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 85 to 90 per cent of all people living with the condition.
Diabetes happens when there is too much glucose, or sugar, in the bloodstream.
Glucose is an important source of energy for the body and comes from carbohydrate foods that most of us eat every day. These foods include bread, pasta, rice, cereal, fruits, starchy vegetables, milk and yoghurt.
When our bodies break down these carbohydrates into glucose, it then enters our bloodstream. When the glucose enters our bloodstream, it requires insulin to enter the body cells and be used for energy.
Insulin is made in the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas can’t make enough insulin and the body cells can’t respond properly to the insulin, leading to high blood glucose levels.
Symptoms usually include:
Risk factors include:
This includes making healthy food choices, being a healthy weight and including regular physical activity in your day-to-day life. The Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013, provides up-to-date advice about the amount and kinds of foods recommended for good health and well-being.
Looking after your diabetes is important for good health and for preventing complications such as damage to your eyes, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels.
Diabetes Tasmania has a team of accredited practicing dietitians and credentialed diabetes nurse educators who can assist in this area. The COACH Program® is recommended for people with type 2 diabetes and those at high risk. There are also other programs designed for people with diabetes including DESMOND and the SMARTS programs.
For more information about diabetes and effectively managing the disease, phone 1300 136 588 or visit https://diabetestas.org.au/
Contributed: Diabetes Tasmania
Everyone knows the benefits of a good night's sleep. But for some, sleep does not come easily.
The following hints may help you get into better sleeping habits.
Diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is a chronic condition that can be associated with significant ill health especially if it is poorly controlled. Diabetes occurs when the body does not make enough insulin, and/or the body becomes resistant to the action of insulin.
Produced in the pancreas, insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood (blood sugar). Blood sugar is the fuel required by cells to function. When it remains high over many years, the blood vessels and nerves become damaged, causing severe complications.
Diabetes is a common cause of blindness, kidney failure, poor cardiovascular health and erectile dysfunction (impotence).
The number of people with diabetes in Australia has increased by more than 300 per cent within the past 20 years. Over one million Australians have diabetes, although up to half of people with type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed.
Types of diabetes There are 2 types of diabetes, with very different causes.
Living with diabetes Diabetes is a serious condition that requires close medical supervision, and careful monitoring through blood sugar testing to prevent or delay complications. People with a greater understanding of how to manage their condition tend to do better. If you have diabetes, ideally, you should understand the following.
Monitoring treatment Regular visits to your GP or endocrinologist are essential. They are likely to recommend ophthalmology screening to monitor eye health, and supervise other aspects of diabetes care, such as kidney health, foot and skin care. Diabetes educators and dietitians are also regularly involved in educating patients in various aspects of diabetes management.
Further information If you are concerned about managing your diabetes, or the complications of diabetes and the side effects of relevant therapies, talk to your doctor or seek advice from your local hospital or diabetes centre.
Diabetes Australia also provides valuable support for patients and their families. It is a key organisation dedicated to raising the awareness of diabetes and to providing support for individuals with diabetes and their families.
Health hazards associated with smoking include chronic lung and airways disease, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, cataracts in the eye, gastrointestinal disease, circulation problems, harm to the fetus of pregnant smokers, harm to family through passive smoking, and premature ageing of the skin.
Most people are aware of the hazards of smoking through advertising, public awareness campaigns and often peer pressure. They are probably ‘told’ these facts often. Family and/or friends may have tried confrontation, bribery or punishment! However, you will give up smoking only when you have made up your mind to do so. When this happens, smoking cessation products and plenty of support from others can help.
If you suddenly stop smoking, the addiction to nicotine can cause severe cravings and other withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, restlessness and loss of concentration.
Methods to help you give up smoking include:
Giving up smoking may take a number of attempts, but this is normal. If one method of giving up doesn’t work, there are others that can be tried which may be better for you.
It's never too late to quit smoking and there are many benefits to be gained no matter what age you are when you give up. Here are some quick tips to help you kick the habit.
Quitting is different for everyone, so find an approach that will work for you. This may be either the cold turkey approach (stopping suddenly and totally) or a more gradual reduction in the number of cigarettes you smoke each day. Set a date to quit — and stick to it. Make it sooner rather than later. If you are quitting by yourself, it is recommended that you stop smoking completely on your quit date.
Get as much support as you can from family, friends and work colleagues. Let them know you are planning to quit, and ask smokers not to smoke around you or offer you cigarettes. Quitting with a friend can also be an excellent idea — you can share your feelings and encourage each other.
Throw out all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters and anything else that might remind you of smoking. Wash your clothes and clean your car to remove the smell of smoke.
Nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine patches or chewing gum, could be a good idea for those who smoke heavily or who feel they may need the extra help. There are also medicines available on prescription, such as varenicline (brand name Champix) and bupropion (brand name Zyban) that can help you quit by reducing withdrawal symptoms and the urge to smoke. Talk to your doctor about what would be best for you.
Plan ahead for situations in which you are likely to be tempted to smoke, such as parties, drinking or going out for coffee. Try to avoid these situations in the early stages of your quitting programme, or try sitting in the non-smoking section at restaurants, drinking your coffee standing up or with the other hand, or keeping something in your hand when you're talking on the phone.
Write down all the reasons that made you decide to quit smoking, and carry them with you in case you need reminding!
Keep the following 4 Ds in mind when you have a craving.
If you drink a lot of coffee, you may also want to cut down on your coffee intake as you will retain more caffeine when there is no nicotine in your system. Feeling jittery will not help your plan to quit. It may also be best to avoid alcohol as many people find it hard to resist smoking when they drink.
If you find you are losing motivation to quit, remind yourself of the many medical and financial benefits of quitting! For example, did you know that 12 months after quitting, your risk of heart disease is reduced to nearly half that of a smoker's? Remember the results of the myDr smoking cost calculator to help keep you motivated.
Telephone the National Tobacco Campaign's Quitline on 131 848 for more advice and assistance to quit smoking
Sunburn is better prevented than treated.
Sunscreens are an important means of prevention, along with hats, clothing and avoiding sun exposure in the middle of the day when ultraviolet (UV) radiation is at its most intense. Sunscreens with the widest range of UVA and UVB block are called broad-spectrum. UVB is more intense than UVA, but UVA can still burn. Pharmacists stock many brands of broad-spectrum sunscreens.
Chemical sunscreens absorb the harmful ultraviolet light to protect the skin against sunburn. Because different chemicals have varying effects on UVA and UVB protection, a combination of chemicals is usually used in sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens should be applied at least 15 minutes before sun exposure, to make the chemicals — cinnamates, octocrylene and the less commonly used para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and derivatives — more active on the skin.
Physical sunscreens deflect UV radiation from the skin rather than absorb it. Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are particularly effective, especially for the nose and ears. The spectrum of titanium dioxide protection extends into the UVA range and so it is often included in combinations with chemical sunscreens.
Other sun protection
Sunscreens alone are not 100 per cent effective in preventing sun-related skin damage. Other essential sun protection includes lip balm with SPF, sunglasses, hats and clothing.
Also, you should seek shade whenever possible and try to avoid being outdoors in the middle of the day (11am to 3pm during daylight savings time and 10am to 2pm at other times of the year).
Mild sunburn treatment
If you do get a mild dose of sunburn, you should:
Sunburn treatment products
A moisturiser will not prevent peeling, but will help relieve the irritation of dry, flaky skin.
Pine bark extract may assist in the treatment of sunburn.
When should you seek medical advice?
You should also seek medical advice if your child gets moderate to severe sunburn, as they may need treatment for dehydration, and appropriate skin care.