Just 8 percent of San Diego County residents who suffered cardiac arrest outside a hospital in 2021 survived, and according to the American Heart Association, that’s slightly behind the national survival rate of 9.1 percent.

Doctors, firefighters, paramedics and many others gathered Monday morning at UC San Diego School of Medicine to insist that this region can do better, much better, if more regular people are ready to act when they see someone collapse.

“If you get bystander CPR, your chance of survival doubles,” said Dr. Zack Shinar, chair of emergency medicine at Sharp Memorial Hospital, noting that few medical procedures can similarly improve the odds so significantly. “Every minute that we wait, that we’re waiting for the medics to arrive, we decrease that (chance of) survival by 10 percent.”

Dr. Zack Shinar of Sharp hospitals speaks at UC San Diego in La Jolla on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in San Diego.

Dr. Zack Shinar of at Sharp hospitals speaks at UCSD on Monday during the Revive & Survive San Diego kick-off news conference.

(Alejandro Tamayo/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

And yet, comparatively few are ready to meet that moment.

Research has shown that less than half of those who need to be resuscitated get immediate help from a bystander, burning many of the six minutes they have until permanent cognitive damage occurs.

Enter Revive & Survive, a new joint initiative from the San Diego County public health department and the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at UC San Diego. The collaborative effort aims to train 1 million local residents in hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

That’s a big goal — about one-third of the region’s total population — but it is what’s needed, experts said, to move the needle on heart attack survival.

“We want everybody, no matter where they live in the whole county, to know how to do this very simple intervention that can really improve outcomes and save lives,” said Dr. Cheryl Anderson, Wertheim’s dean.

Right, Maureen O'Connor with project heart beat teaches CPR to a group at UC San Diego in La Jolla on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024.

Maureen O’Connor (right) with Project Heart Beat teaches CPR to a group at UC San Diego on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024.

(Alejandro Tamayo/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Leaders gathered on campus Monday to launch the endeavor, making sure to get a little CPR practice in after speeches and a flash mob that had everyone dancing to Stayin’ Alive, the 1970s Bee Gees hit that just so happens to have a beat that lands right in the 100- to 120-beat-per-minute range recommended for chest compressions.

Bystander training is only part of what’s needed to increase cardiac arrest survival rates.

Most call 911 when a heart attack occurs, and emergency dispatchers frequently find themselves coaching distraught loved ones in chest compressions, often put on speaker phone to listen in and coach as best they can.

Here, the county has been working for years to improve things. Dr. Kristi Koenig, medical director of the county emergency medical system, said her office began training dispatchers about six years ago in the new hands-only CPR technique.

Building a more complete training process for dispatchers uncovered an obstacle. Often, in the first minutes of cardiac arrest, it can appear as if they are still able to breathe. They gasp for breath, but the effort is futile. It’s a natural reflex called “agonal breathing,” and it can delay the start of CPR because the person ready to start chest compressions is deceived into thinking action may not yet be necessary.

In this moment, emergency dispatchers need a mountain of confidence to urge action when agonal breathing happens. Koenig said her office helps them know what to listen for.

“During training, we’ve played various actual recordings of people with agonal breathing so they could hear the differences, because it’s not always going to sound the same,” Koenig said.

There is no time, she said, to play those recordings to the person who will perform CPR, but dispatchers can give them the courage to start pushing during those final gasps.

Maureen O’Connor, program manager of San Diego Project Heart Beat, said that many are worried in the moment that CPR might actually be unnecessary and hold back out of uncertainty.

“If you think somebody might be in cardiac arrest, bare their chest,” O’Connor said. “If they let you, that’s a good sign.

“I always say, if they allow you to do CPR, then they need CPR.”

Many emphasize that CPR is less complicated than it used to be.

In 2008, the American Heart Association changed its cardiopulmonary resuscitation recommendation, removing rescue breathing — the part where a person was advised to pinch the nose and breathe into the mouth — after research found that it really was far less essential than properly-spaced chest compressions in terms of keeping blood flowing during the critical minutes before a patient’s heartbeat is restored, often with a shock from an automatic defibrillator.

How long will it take for Revive. & Survive to log 1 million bystander CPR training sessions? Koenig said she’d love to see the goal reached by the end of the year.

Is that a little over ambitious? O’Connor, the San Diego Project Heart Beat manager, said she doesn’t think so. Her organization already does thousands of 10-minute trainings per year and many local organizations, especially the local chapters of the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross, also operate similar programs.

“Easy, all we need is for lots of people to come out and do it,” O’Connor said.

The new program has a list of available training partners and sessions on its web site, revivesurvive.ucsd.edu.

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A time-tested acronym for fire suppression, RECEO-VS stands for Rescue, Exposures, Containment, Extinguishment and Overhaul, with the tacked-on Ventilation and Salvage addressed as a “when needed, where needed” tactical operation.

But as we’ve learned more about the increased risks for firefighters to develop cancers (when compared to the public) from the chemicals, chemical compounds and carcinogens present in the smoke of today’s structural fires, firefighters must reevaluate the importance of ventilation specific to cancer prevention. In short, ventilation is needed any time something has been burning inside a structure.

Beyond flow paths

Controlling the flow path and ventilation to support interior firefighting activities is crucial. But just as crucial is the continued ventilation of all interior spaces where firefighters are working following suppression of the fire (e.g., performing overhaul, property conservation).

Why is ventilation needed then? Aren’t those firefighters being protected by their PPE and SCBA, especially with the emphasis now on breathing air from one’s SCBA until they exit the hazard area? Good questions.

In a 2014 article titled “Systemic Exposure to PAHs and Benzene in Firefighters Suppressing Controlled Structure Fires,” researchers from the Illinois Fire Service Institute and NIOSH found polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and other aromatic hydrocarbons present in firefighters after fire suppression and overhaul activities in fire simulations

In other words, you know that interior pressure in the structure that’s being generated by the fire – the pressure that’s forcing smoke and fire gases out of every opening in the building (e.g., windows, doors, eaves) it can find? That same pressure is working to permeate your PPE with those same smoke and fire gases that have those chemicals, chemical compounds and carcinogens. That pressure is forcing these contaminants into the fabric of your PPE and coat and pants, into the soft goods of your helmet and into the interfaces of your PPE (e.g., neck, wrist, legs). And it’s that contamination that’s not going to get completely removed until those PPE elements are properly washed and dried.

Reduce the temperature and reduce the risk of absorption

Then there’s the heat you’re generating heat inside your PPE that’s raising your skin temperature, and the last thing you need is for heat to remain in the spaces where you’re working during overhaul. As Bruce Evans wrote in “Skin’s role in firefighter rehab,” More significant is how these chemicals embed in the pores that open to help thermo-regulate heat stress during firefighting operations. With every 5 degrees that body temperature rises, skin absorption rates increase by as much 400%.

Ventilation sequence

With that information and perspective, it’s imperative that incident commanders (ICs) have two strategies for ventilation when conducting interior structural fire suppression.

The first strategy is to supply tactical ventilation, including controlling the flow path, to support those interior tactical operations (e.g., entry, search, fire containment, fire extinguishment, overhaul). Once those tactical aims have been achieved, the IC must ensure that there is a smooth transition from their first ventilation strategy (tactical ventilation) to their next ventilation strategy – contaminant risk reduction. That transition must include an assessment of the structure’s interior to figure out ventilation needs, allocation of proper resources, and communication of the ventilation plan to everyone on the fire scene.

When developing and supporting such a cancer risk reduction ventilation plan, the IC need not concern themselves with atmospheric monitoring (e.g., four-gas meter, PID). There are no meters that even begin to have the capability to monitor for and test, detect the hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals, chemical compounds and carcinogens present in those interior spaces, even after the visible smoke has been removed.

As Dawn Bolstad-Johnson wrote in “EXPOSED: Carcinogenic Exposures on the Fireground and 11 Work Practices to Minimize the Risk,” “Firefighters know that CO [carbon monoxide] is toxic and that exposure to CO if they run out of air, can be deadly. This may be why metering for CO before removing their SCBA during overhaul became an acceptable practice … metering for CO does not detect the presence or absence of other toxic concentrations in the fire overhaul environment.” Furthermore, there is no tool that firefighters can use (e.g., four-gas meter, PID meter) to make a decision to work in a post-fire atmosphere in a structure without their PPE and SCBA.

Words matter

Our language has an influence on how we perceive risk. Consider these phrases:

  • “It’s just a kitchen fire.”
  • “Room and contents fire. No big deal.”
  • “Just your bread-and-butter house fire.”

All these scenarios – and more like them – are acute toxic events that are ripe with chemicals, chemical compounds and carcinogens. It’s words and phrases like that that can cause us to let down our guard, and it is never OK to breathe smoke, of any kind, of any amount at any time. Those should be the words that guide our actions and behaviors.
As Bolstad-Johnson writes, “Categorizing smaller fires as low risk may work for a fire attack strategy, in that these types of fires are probably low risk for what is actually going to kill you now. However, they are high in the toxic exposure category for what exposures could kill you later.”

Fire investigators

Likewise, fire investigators conducting their investigation of a fire must also wear a proper level of PPE and breathe air from a SCBA. After all, just because the scene is cold and has been well ventilated during the contaminant reduction phase of ventilation doesn’t mean that all those chemicals, chemical compounds and carcinogens are no longer present.

Bolstad-Johnson and her colleagues with the Phoenix Fire Department conducted two studies that evaluated the toxic hazards that are still present following ventilation of interior spaces during overhaul. The results of those studies showed that airborne concentrations of toxic chemicals and carcinogens, particularly acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, can linger within the structure for extended periods of time and may, in fact, become higher with time rather than lower.

Ventilation did appear to help reduce overall exposures. However, in many cases the concentrations were not reduced to low enough levels to work in this environment without respiratory protection.

Final thoughts

Remember these key points:

  • The IC’s first ventilation strategy at a structure fire must deliver tactical ventilation to support interior fire suppression tasks.
  • Once fire suppression has been completed, the IC’s ventilation strategy must change, as necessary, to ensure that all interior spaces within the structure where firefighters are working are being sufficiently ventilated.
  • Fire investigators also need ventilation when conducting their investigations. Fire departments should create a procedure to supply the proper level of ventilation for contaminant exposure control while fire investigators are working in a structure.

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This post includes content modified using AI.

A defendant involved in the trafficking of methamphetamine, who admitted to the charges, has been handed a 25-year sentence in a federal penitentiary. This decision was publicly disclosed by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Leigha Simonton.

Christian Allen Meers, aged 45, faced charges through a criminal complaint in June 2023 and was indicted the following month. On September 25, 2023, the day his trial was scheduled to begin, Mr. Meers pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute a controlled substance. Later, he received his sentencing on Friday from U.S. District Judge Reed C. O'Connor.

Methamphetamine: An Overview

Methamphetamine originated in the early 20th century as a derivative of amphetamine. Initially, it found its primary application in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers.

Similar to amphetamine, methamphetamine causes heightened levels of activity and rhetoric, reduced appetite, and a pleasant feeling of general well-being or euphoria.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has classified Methamphetamine as a Schedule II stimulant, which makes it legally available only through a non-refillable prescription.

In 2021, over 106,000 people in the United States lost their lives due to drug-related overdoses, containing both illicit substances and prescription opioids

The number of drug overdose fatalities increased from 2019 to 2021, with over 106,000 reported deaths in 2021. Specifically, fatalities related to synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl, also rose, reaching 70,601 overdose deaths. Additionally, deaths involving stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine grew to 32,537 in 2021 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Methamphetamine alters dopamine levels in the brain, triggering significant increases in this neurotransmitter. This surge in dopamine can potentially rewire brain function, compelling individuals to seek out the drug repeatedly.

Dangers of Methamphetamine Use

Methamphetamine use is linked to numerous physical health risks, some of which pose significant and enduring consequences for individuals who use the drug.

According to the National Alcohol and Drug Knowledgebase, the long and long-term effects of methamphetamine use are those listed below:

Short-term effects

  1. increased or irregular heart rate (palpitations)
  2. chest pains
  3. breathing faster or irregularly
  4. loss of appetite
  5. high blood pressure
  6. dilated pupils
  7. increased perspiration
  8. feeling restless, shaky, or moving more quickly
  9. sleeplessness
  10. jaw clenching or teeth grinding
  11. headaches
  12. dizziness
  13. pale complexion
  14. elevated body temperature
  15. nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  16. seizures.

Long-term effects

  1. weakened immune system
  2. stroke
  3. heart infection
  4. lung disease
  5. kidney and liver damage
  6. poor dental health
  7. poor dietary intake and extreme weight loss
  8. restless sleep
  9. regular colds and flu
  10. muscle stiffness
  11. skin lesions and infections.

Even in the lack of preexisting heart conditions, the lengthy use of methamphetamine poses significant health hazards, such as high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Also, this substance can cause harm to the liver and kidneys, which can have severe and deadly implications. Again, the long-term impact of methamphetamine on the brain's dopamine system can result in endless problems with memory, speech, coordination, and emotional control.

A negative effect especially associated with methamphetamine use involves significant damage to dental health. This substance has a detrimental impact on teeth, leading to their gradual destruction. This condition has been labeled as "meth mouth," highlighting the distinct dental consequences of meth use.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with methamphetamine cessation can be particularly difficult, leading to strong cravings, exhaustion, stress, despair, and even psychosis.

One element that people find appealing about methamphetamine is the deep feeling of euphoria undergone during a meth high. Nevertheless, this exalted state is short, leading to a following crash that can be as uncomfortable as the initial high was pleasurable.

Secondhand Exposure to Methamphetamine

The concentration of methamphetamine present in the air due to passive exposure is generally very below the threshold demanded to elicit any noticeable psychoactive effects.

Moreover, in contrast to the passive input of marijuana smoke, methamphetamine lacks the chemical characteristics required for such unintended absorption into the body.

Second-hand exposure is a substantial concern for those who find themselves in an environment where meth is being manufactured or abused.

People who are exposed to methamphetamine fumes or residue still run the danger of getting sick. For instance, during methamphetamine manufacturing, toxic gases, and harmful chemicals are released into the environment. In extreme cases, these emissions can lead to explosions

Dealing with the Consequences

Methamphetamine changes the functioning of the brain and accelerates the body's processes to dangerously high levels, leading to heightened blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory speed. People committing ongoing methamphetamine use may experience feelings of anxiety, paranoia, aggression, hallucinations, and disruptions in mood.

By using treatment methods grounded in research and tailored support, people can acquire a life without methamphetamine dependence. Although there are currently no medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration designed explicitly for handling meth addiction, behavioral interventions have shown effectiveness in helping individuals on their recovery journey.

An example of such a strategy is mental-behavioral therapy, a method that assists people in handling and addressing circumstances that could lead to substance abuse.

Conclusion

According to a recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been an increase in deadly overdoses connected to methamphetamine and other stimulant substances.

Drug consumption always carries inherent dangers. It is important to be well informed and knowledgeable of these dangers before permitting drugs to negatively impact both yourself and your family.

references

Hooodline

United States Attorney's Office

National Institute on Deig Abuse

NADK

DrugBanyan Treatment Center

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The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has raised concerns over the prevailing harsh weather conditions.

In a press release, the GHS underscored the importance of public awareness, particularly among individuals with conditions like asthma and chronic respiratory issues.

The advisory urged such individuals to exercise caution in light of the compromised air quality and dusty environment, recommending the use of protective gear to shield against potential health risks.

Among the recommended precautions, the GHS emphasized the necessity to curtail outdoor activities, particularly for vulnerable demographics such as children and the elderly.

Additionally, the release suggested the adoption of face masks as a preventive measure to minimize exposure to dust. Staying well-hydrated was also highlighted, with a recommendation to consume ample water throughout the day.

The press release concluded with an assurance from the GHS, affirming its commitment to diligently identify and respond promptly to any potential outbreaks during the ongoing period of challenging weather conditions and beyond.

Below is the GHS’s full release.

February has been characterized by very harsh weather conditions of dryness and dust with a high Air Quality Index as reported by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Ghana Meteorological Agency is also reporting of very hot conditions for the coming months of March and April. These adverse weather conditions predispose individuals to several ill health conditions including respiratory illness and meningitis.

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) appreciates that, persons with Asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions may suffer acute attack or may experience worsening of their conditions.

The increased dryness of the air may predispose persons and individuals to dehydration, especially among children and the elderly.

In the northern part of the country in particular, the dry and hot weather conditions can lead to increased risk of meningitis as evident with the reported cases of meningitis though there are no outbreaks in the country.

The GHS is therefore recommending the following to minimize the effect of the harsh weather conditions:

  • Limit outdoor activities especially for children and the elderly.
  • Wear face-masks to reduce exposure to the dust.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water throughout the day.
  • People living with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma should continue to take their prescribed medications.

We urge the public to observe these recommendations during this period of harsh weather conditions and report to the nearest health facility when they have difficulty in breathing. It must be noted that, treatment is available for all these conditions including Meningitis and therefore persons with fever and neck stiffness should report immediately to the nearest health facility.

The GHS assures the public that it is working diligently to promptly identify and respond to any potential outbreaks during this period of harsh weather conditions and beyond.


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A new viral trend suggests eating tart candies can help stave off anxiety attacks.

So we turned to Leah Harter, LCMHC, is the counseling clinical director & therapist at the Christian Center of Park City to see if it can really work.

The short answer she says is YES!

Leah says, "Our brains can only handle one emergency at a time. If someone is struggling with a panic attack, giving it another emergency, like a strong taste or temperature can help the brain realign."

She suggests sucking on Warheads, Fireballs or a super strong mint.

Leah also says other mindfulness techniques also help extinguish panic attacks. Those include deep breathing, yoga, exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, and touching each finger to your thumb.

She also stresses that sour candy is not a long-term solution to anxiety or panic. It's only a temporary treatment.

If you experience continued panic attacks or anxiety, it's important to get therapy from a professional clinic mental health counselor.

If you need help go to CCPC Counselors for more information.



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Welling up with emotion, the couple recounted how Matt went into cardiac arrest as his heart stopped during intubation.

Medical personnel took about an hour to revive him, in what felt like an eternity for the terrified couple.

Mr Semodio, an information technology support staff, sighed and said: “I don’t think there is just one adjective or correct adjective for how I felt. I was devastated, in denial and more scared than anything in my life. It was a mix of emotions that made up the most difficult time in my life.”

His wife, who also works in IT, said: “It was always panic mode for us.”

As the boy was brought back from the brink, he was put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (Ecmo), which pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest.

The day after Matt was put on Ecmo, the couple said that doctors did several viral and bacterial tests, and found out that Matt had contracted Covid-19, which led to myocarditis.

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle that reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood, resulting in chest pain, shortness of breath, and rapid or irregular heart rhythms. Viral infections are one of the common causes.

Recalling the moment she heard the diagnosis, Ms Reyes said: “We didn’t know because everybody tested negative before we returned to Singapore.”

She added that before this, Matt was a completely healthy boy with no heart conditions or lung problems.

In addition to their worries about the diagnosis and seeing their son hooked up to the Ecmo machine, the couple also learnt that Matt had suffered a mild stroke affecting his left side.

They were told that the Ecmo process had side effects, which included the formation of blood clots that reached his brain at some point during the 11 days that he was hooked up to the machine.

The boy was in the intensive care unit from Jan 5 to 24 before he was moved to a high-dependency ward, which offers closer monitoring than a general ward.

Mr Semidio recalled that when Matt woke up, he told the boy, "Hi, welcome back”, before the two of them prayed. The family are Catholics and have been living in Singapore since 2006 as Ms Reyes is a permanent resident.

Ms Reyes said that her son’s first words to them were: “Hold my hand.”

Even though their boy was out of intensive care, the couple remained very concerned because their son’s heart was still not able to function normally.

“If I see him just look a bit lethargic, I would get scared but then I would remind myself that the worst is over because his heart is beating on its own again,” Mr Semidio said.

THE RECOVERY AND DIFFICULTIES EXPERIENCED

TODAY interviewed the couple a few weeks after Matt’s hospitalisation and they said that his recovery has been progressing. They can see a return of traces of their dinosaur- and anime-loving boy.

“He can go to the toilet and do the exercises he picked up in physiotherapy. He also started slowly regaining his skills after the mild stroke, and is playing games on his laptop now,” Mr Semidio said.

Despite the improvement, the couple still have moments of despair.

“It’s been mentally excruciating as a father to see my son like this. Even though he is getting better, it’s difficult to control the mind,” Mr Semidio added.

Since Matt was discharged from the hospital on Feb 8, he has returned twice after vomiting blood, likely a side-effect of his medication.

“I would be happy and then when something happens like this, I will get shaken easily. It is really difficult.

"Sometimes I would second-guess myself and get lost in my thoughts, and sometimes I would just stare at nothing,” Mr Semidio added.

For her part, Ms Reyes said that she still feels "trauma" over the ordeal.

“Every time we try to sleep, we don’t know if Matt is going to feel better. I still can’t sleep well and I have to check on him every once in a while, so the fear is still there.”

On top of such anxiety, the couple have to confront the financial aspect of this ordeal, which has taken a toll on the two full-time working parents who have had to take unpaid leave to care for their son.

It did not help that they were only able to use MediSave and Mr Semidio’s insurance to pay for about S$143,950 of their son’s estimated S$335,000 medical bill. They are still left to find about S$191,000 out of their own pocket.

The hospital has agreed in principle to their request to pay the bill in instalments, but it is still “a really huge sum”, Mr Semidio said.

That was why when their family friend initiated an online fundraiser through fundraising platform GiveAsia for the family, they could not be more grateful.

“She talked to us and told us that she could do this for us and any form of help is good. Whatever comes in is good, and will help us to pay Matt’s bills moving forward,” Mr Semidio said.

The fundraiser started on Jan 28 and as of Saturday (Feb 24), it has garnered about S$35,000 in donations. 

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Displacement and ongoing fighting continue to impact medical access and mental health in Ukraine.

February 24 marks two years since Russia escalated the war in Ukraine, where hostilities began in 2014. Today, nearly 10 million people are displaced, including 3.7 million internally displaced people and 5.9 refugees abroad. Missile and drone attacks continue and the front line spans more than 600 miles.

Read more about how MSF continues to respond to the needs of people impacted by war in Ukraine.

“About six months ago, everything was shelled—the medical point, the pharmacy, and all the infrastructure destroyed,” said Liudmyla Karatsiuba, a resident near Kupiansk, one of the most volatile areas on the front line in Ukraine, in the northeast of the country. “But it wasn’t the end. We built houses; we strengthened our community.”

Following Ukrainian forces’ partial retaking of the Kharkiv region in September 2022, and the front line shifting further from Kupiansk, an MSF medical team arrived in Liudmyla's village to provide medical treatment. The shelling had left no public buildings for the team to set up a clinic, so Liudmyla agreed to let the team use her home, where they provided medical and psychological consultations to people from the entire community.

“I still follow the advice given by MSF psychologists, and I teach my neighbors the candle breathing exercise for calmness and balance,” said Liudmyla. “It has helped me remain focused on being useful at the age of 75. Currently, I am engaged in farming and raising rabbits.”

The breathing exercise Liudmyla refers to is a simple technique used to ease stress and anxiety. MSF mobile teams in Ukraine have shared breathing exercises that can be easily passed on to people to treat and raise the profile of mental health care. The same teams worked with Liudmyla’s community to rebuild the only local medical point, where Ministry of Health workers have now returned.

Bringing care to communities impacted by fighting

There are many people like Liudmyla living near the front line. Since the dramatic escalation of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, MSF has been conducting mobile clinics in the adjacent regions.

“Most of our patients have been women over the age of 60, many of them suffering from chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes,” said Maksym Zharikov, MSF deputy medical coordinator in Ukraine. “While some were evacuated, others either couldn’t leave, or chose to remain in their communities. The urgent need remains to provide medical services to patients residing 20–30 kilometers [about 12 to 19 miles] from the front lines.”

This trend has been a constant since the war began in 2014: supplies in markets and medical centers near the frontline dwindle, along with the number of people in the villages. Today, nearly 10 million people are displaced either inside Ukraine or as refugees abroad. Organizations like MSF have been able to support some of these communities with supplies, medical care, and reconstruction. However, more often it is the communities themselves, with the aid of local volunteer organizations, that carry out the work. In the last two years, it has become increasingly difficult to reach areas cut off by fighting or close to the front lines.

MSF runs mobile clinics in 100 different towns and villages near the frontline in the Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Kherson regions. These clinics usually comprise a therapist, a psychologist, a medical doctor, and a social worker.

Psychological support during wartime in Ukraine

“I can see that my younger son, Vania, needs more care and attention now,” said Olena Beda of her nine-year-old son. “He often asks to be hugged and asks how much I love him.”

Olena and her two children have been living in a shelter for displaced people in the Kirovohrad region for over a year after fleeing war in Donetsk. Although they settled in an area relatively far from the frontlines, drones and missiles have become a relentless part of life in the last two years.

Vania began to have trouble sleeping, particularly due to shelling. After a team of MSF psychologists began conducting group sessions for children at the shelter, Olena felt Vania’s anxiety diminish. He was able to go back to school and make new friends.

“However, sudden loud noises and conversations about the war can trigger a sudden change in his condition,” Olena explained.

In the last two years in Ukraine, MSF has provided 26,324 individual psychological consultations. In shelters for internally displaced people, the main group of patients consists of mothers with children.

In the last two years in Ukraine, MSF has provided 26,324 individual psychological consultations. In shelters for internally displaced people, the main group of patients consists of mothers with children.

“At the onset of the escalation, we observed symptoms among children such as anxiety, panic attacks, and fear,” said Alisa Kushnirova, an MSF psychologist. “However, we notice that children have begun to perceive the abnormal situation as normal—they have adapted to the sounds of explosions—though we still observe neurotic reactions.”

Our teams provide psychological support to families, including adults. The mental health of adults is key in maintaining a positive psychological environment within the family, as the parents’ condition often reflects that of their children.

Emergency evacuations and early physical rehabilitation

“On April 18, 2023, I lost my leg,” said Tetiana Doloza. “The market where I worked as a salesperson in the city of Ukrainsk, in Donetsk, was hit by missiles and I was severely injured.”

It’s been 10 months since Tetiana lost her leg. Today, she walks in Kyiv with confidence, relying on a prosthetic limb and crutches for support. Tetiana was evacuated from the market to a hospital and transported by an MSF medical train to the Lviv region, where doctors and physiotherapists have fitted her with a prosthesis.

“When MSF doctors took me to the hospital in the west of the country, I felt lost,” said Tetiana. “I didn't know how I would cope with an amputation. Now, with a prosthetic limb, I live in Kyiv with my son. At 72 years old, I am happy to have survived.”

"At 72 years old, I am happy to have survived.”

TETIANA DOLOZA, MSF PATIENT

“Between March 2022 to December 2023, MSF’s medical evacuation train transported 3,808 patients, 310 of whom were in critical condition,” said Albina Zharkova, MSF project coordinator. “In 2022 and early 2023, the evacuation train was essential for referring people to safer locations and hospitals for treatment. Now the needs have shifted, and our ambulances are the ones doing shorter referrals.”

Today, due to a change in the war’s dynamic, patients are now staying in eastern Ukraine rather than being referred to the west. But our teams continue to operate 15 ambulances that refer patients wounded by shelling and those with chronic illnesses to medical facilities farther away from the front.

The fighting on the frontlines of Ukraine remains as devastating as ever, despite waning international attention on the humanitarian consequences. From 2014 to 2022, more than 14,000 people were killed. Since February 2022 this number has multiplied, with hundreds of thousands wounded physically and psychologically, and almost 10 million people displaced.

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From Apple Watches to Oura Rings, wearable health technology has exploded in popularity as devices offer more ways to track your health.

Some vital signs, like heart rate and sleep patterns, can help drive users to become more active or prioritize their health in new ways.

Others are more of a guess and shouldn’t be used to make medical decisions — and may even be dangerous.

That’s why the Food and Drug Administration warned smartwatch and smart ring users with diabetes this week to never rely solely on their device’s reported blood glucose levels.

Here’s what you need to know.

FDA issues warning

The FDA said any device that claims to report a blood glucose level without pricking the skin has not been authorized by the administration and does not provide accurate data, according to a Feb. 21 news release.

“The FDA has not authorized, cleared or approved any smartwatch or smart ring that is intended to measure or estimate blood glucose values on its own,” the administration said.

This doesn’t apply to smartwatches that are linked to sensors, the FDA said, like continuous glucose monitoring systems that are attached elsewhere on the body.

“For people with diabetes, inaccurate blood glucose measurements can lead to errors in diabetes management, including taking the wrong dose of insulin, sulfonylureas or other medications that can rapidly lower blood glucose,” the administration said. “Taking too much of these medications can quickly lead to dangerously low glucose, leading to mental confusion, coma or death within hours of the error.”

What devices are affected?

The FDA says the warning applies to “any smartwatch or smart ring, regardless of brand, that claims to measure blood glucose levels,” according to the release.

This includes any third-party app that claims to track blood glucose using one of the devices.

“These smartwatches and smart rings are manufactured by dozens of companies and sold under multiple brand names,” the administration said. “This safety communication applies to any smartwatch or smart ring that claims to measure blood glucose without piercing the skin, regardless of manufacturer or brand.”

Apple Watches don’t claim to track blood glucose directly, but the device does support apps that do, Healthline reported.

Fitbit devices also don’t claim to track blood glucose values, but they do have programming in the Fitbit app to track blood sugar trends over time if they are self-reported.

The company that makes the more recently popular Oura rings announced in June that the device is compatible with continuous glucose monitors, a type of device that attaches to the skin and reads glucose levels throughout the day, but it cannot track blood glucose levels on its own.

Who needs to track their blood glucose?

“We all need sugar in our blood to provide cells with energy,” associate medical director for the British Heart Foundation, Mike Knapton, said on the organization’s website. “The hormone insulin allows sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream to enter your cells, where it can be used for energy. If you don’t have enough insulin, sugar stays in the bloodstream. Over time, high blood sugar levels damage your blood vessels.”

Knapton said not only does this apply to those with type 1 or 2 diabetes, but it’s also important for coronary heart disease, kidney disease and diabetic eye disease.

People born with diabetes, type 1, or who develop the condition later in life, type 2, are unable to manage their insulin production naturally, and rely on blood glucose measurements for the dose and timing of their treatment.

Knapton said those who have had a heart attack and those who are at risk of diabetes, caused by age, diet or preexisting conditions, should also have their blood glucose checked as part of regular blood testing.

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Dr Xinye Li, the study’s lead author, says the results showed tai chi was an efficient way to reduce blood pressure, which also helped people to “improve flexibility, balance, and cardiopulmonary function while reducing the risk of falls”.
Once blood pressure reaches the threshold of 140 mmHg – the systolic, higher measure, diastolic being the lower – patients are often treated with daily medication to reduce the risk of a heart attack. Photo: Shutterstock
It is important for those with prehypertension to seek intervention early because the condition is associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Blood pressure is measured using two numbers: the first, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The second, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.

The big risks of leaving high blood pressure untreated – doctors explain

Once systolic blood pressure reaches the threshold of 140, patients are often prescribed daily medication to reduce the risk of a heart attack.

According to the 2021 Chinese Adult Hypertension Survey, more than 50 per cent of adults without a history of hypertension had prehypertension. Exercise is a recommended form of preventive treatment to reduce blood pressure and avoid medication.

Scientists at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing wanted to better understand what type of exercise would reduce blood pressure most significantly. They conducted a trial between July 2019 and January 2022 at Guang’anmen Hospital of China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences and Dongzhimen Hospital of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine in Beijing.

Jogging or running is more ballistic than tai chi, which was found to be better at reducing blood pressure. Photo: Shutterstock
Participants, whose average age was 49, were randomly split into two groups, one undergoing a tai chi training programme and the other a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise programme. Both groups underwent training for a year, exercising four times a week.

Each session consisted of a 10-minute warm-up, 40 minutes of core exercises and a 10-minute cool-down activity. Those in the tai chi group followed a practice consisting of 24 standard movements. Participants in the aerobic group did exercises including climbing stairs, jogging, brisk walking and cycling.

After a year, researchers found that practising tai chi reduced systolic blood pressure by 7.01, compared to just 4.61 for the aerobic exercise group. Blood pressure was also significantly reduced at night time for the tai chi participants.

Tai chi was found to induce greater improvement in mobility and balance in older adults compared with conventional exercises. Photo: Shutterstock

The results, published in medical journal JAMA Network Open, add to a growing body of evidence that tai chi produces a relaxing effect and regulates the heart.

Sara Chung, founder of Balancd Fitness in Hong Kong, which offers tai chi training, said meditation and deep breathing achieved through tai chi help to activate the vagal system, which turns off the stressful fight and flight reaction in the brain.

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“Tai chi is great for the body because the breathing slows, blood pressure drops, it clears the mind and reduces stress. Unlike other forms of exercise that I have pursued in the past, tai chi cultivates my mind as well as my body,” said Chung, who is also a runner.

Hong Kong-based tai chi teacher Richard Wickes, who has practised martial arts for 40 years, said he was not surprised by the research.

“With tai chi there is a focus on opening and stretching in a slow, mindful way. This stretching … leads to a regulating and tonifying effect,” Wickes said.

Sara Chung is the founder of Balancd Fitness in Hong Kong. Photo: Sara Chung

“In contrast, jogging or running is more ballistic. The running is great for relaxing the mind while the body is working, but tai chi at higher levels demands a constant feeling of the state of the inside of the body.”

Recent analysis published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health that examined 12 studies involving 2,901 participants found those practising tai chi were quicker at standing, walking and moving into a sitting position, and able to balance on one leg for longer, than those doing conventional stretching and balance exercises.

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This provides “strong evidence that tai chi is a more efficient strategy to improve functional mobility and balance in relatively healthy older adults, as compared to conventional exercise”, said Dr Brad Manor, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in the US state of Massachusetts.

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In New Zealand, over 570,000 people take medication for asthma – this is an estimated 1 in 8 New Zealanders. For children, asthma is one of the most common causes of hospital admissions. On average, 98 people die from asthma in New Zealand each year – that’s nearly two people each week.

While there is no cure for asthma, there are many things you can do to manage it effectively to ensure you live a full and active life. The first step is to learn as much as you can about the condition and how to manage it.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a disease of the airways in the lungs. People with asthma have overly-sensitive airways. When faced with certain triggers, the airways may tighten, partially close up, swell inside and make more mucus. This makes it hard to breathe in, and even harder to breathe out.

Diagram of asthmatic airway

Illustration courtesy of Ophea Asthma Friendly website (CA)What causes asthma?

What causes asthma?

Asthma is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. While we don’t know why so many people have asthma, we do know that it is most common in developed English-speaking countries like New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. It may be related to ‘modern living’ – perhaps to changes to the environment, our diet, or different exposure to some infections. It is likely that all of these things have an effect, and hopefully in the future researchers will come up with a way of preventing people from getting asthma.

What are the symptoms of asthma?

The most common symptoms of asthma are:

  • Wheezing (your breath might make a ‘whistling’ sound from your chest as you breathe in and out).
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Tightness in the chest.
  • Coughing.

You may experience one of these symptoms or a combination of them. Symptoms may occur suddenly as an asthma flare-up (asthma attack) or they may come on gradually. It is important to know exactly what to do if you or someone you care for has an asthma flare-up, or an asthma emergency and needs urgent treatment by your primary health care team, primary care After Hours service, ambulance service, or hospital emergency service.

Every person with asthma should be given a personalised asthma action plan by their healthcare practitioner. An asthma action plan is a written self-management plan, with clear instructions on how to recognise and respond to worsening asthma symptoms using your prescribed medication.

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Every 80 seconds, a woman dies from heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. The good news is about 80% of cardiovascular disease may be prevented, by knowing and managing risk factors.

Facts about women and heart disease

  • Heart disease is the number one killer of women. It impacts more women than men and kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. Heart disease killed 310,661 women in 2021 — or about 1 in every 5 female deaths, according to the CDC.
  • You can be at risk without symptoms. Almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.
  • It affects women of all ages – overeating, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of heart disease.
  • Some risk factors you can’t do anything about. However, others you can treat, manage or control with the help of your primary care provider. Those you can’t change, like your family history, are still important when assessing your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Heart disease risk factors

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Mental stress and depression
  • Smoking
  • Lack of regular activity
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Broken heart syndrome – often brought on by sudden, stressful situations that can cause severe, usually temporary, heart muscle failure. This is most common in women after menopause.
  • Pregnancy complications like high blood pressure or diabetes can increase a woman’s long-term risk of heart disease.

Signs and symptoms of a heart attack

  • Chest pain or discomfort is the most common symptom.
  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms – back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
  • Women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

How women can reduce their risk of heart disease

heart disease
Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week can improve your heart health. – Credit: Getty Images
  • Quit smoking – Smoking affects the heart and blood vessels and is one of the most preventable causes of heart disease. When you smoke, your arteries tighten, which makes your heart work harder. Smoking also can trigger an irregular heart rhythm and raise blood pressure, which are leading causes of stroke.
  • Eat well – A diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains is your first defense against the onset of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Exercise – Being physically active releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins which help reduce stress and protect against heart disease by lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle and helping you maintain a healthy weight. Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week can improve your heart health.
  • Eliminate or moderate your alcohol intake – Excessive drinking can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, obesity and stroke.
  • Practice relaxation techniques – like mindfulness, meditation and deep breathing. Learning how to relax can help lower your stress levels and your blood pressure.
  • Get regular health check-ups – especially if you have a family history of heart disease. Work with your doctors to find the best way to manage your individual health needs.
  • Know your numbers – total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index.
  • Sleep well – Sleep is essential for a healthy heart. People who don’t sleep enough are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.

How stress affects the heart

  • Unmanaged stress, especially stress-related anger and hostility, can affect your health. It may cause:
    • High blood pressure
    • Irregular heart rhythms
    • Damage to your arteries
    • Higher cholesterol levels
    • The development and progression of coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis)
    • A weakened immune system
  • In times of stress, people often turn to harmful habits to reduce their stress, such as cigarette smoking, overeating, use of drugs or over-use of alcohol. All these factors put you at additional risk for heart disease and stroke.

Advanced heart care, close to home

American Heart Month, heart disease
Dr. Desiree Dizadji is a cardiologist with Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin in Racine. She is board-certified in cardiovascular disease, nuclear cardiology and internal medicine. – Credit: Ascension Medical Group

Care teams with Ascension Wisconsin provide advanced heart testing and diagnostics, treatments, medication management, surgical heart and vascular care and rehabilitation. And as part of a national heart care team, our doctors share best practices in care and research, connecting you to advanced heart care close to home. Find a doctor and start by calling or scheduling an appointment online, by clicking here.

Desiree Dizadji, MD, is a cardiologist with Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin at 3803 Spring St. in Racine. She is board-certified in cardiovascular disease, nuclear cardiology and internal medicine. To schedule an appointment, call 262-687-8260.


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CHICAGO - This month marks 20 years of the American Heart Association's national "Go Red for Women" campaign.

In that time, many lessons have been learned about women's heart health. In a Special Report, FOX 32's Sylvia Perez takes a look at the one that tops the list.

Carolyn Morris doesn't miss a beat when it's time to see her cardiologist.

"My mom, she suffered from blood clots as well, so my older brother had a stroke, my baby sister has blood clots too so. I have to be diligent. And to make sure I’m ok," said 55-year-old Carolyn Morris.

She started seeing Dr. Rupa Sanghani about five years ago when daily physical tasks gave her heart trouble.

"Just walking from here to the parking garage. My chest would hurt so bad, but it will resolve immediately at rest," Morris said.

She sometimes also had heart palpitations and was overweight back then.

So what was happening with Morris’ heart?

"No, not a heart attack but I knew something wasn’t right," she said.

It was a tricky situation to diagnose because her doctor says early test results indicated Morris was ok, despite the pain she was experiencing.

"I think the biggest lesson we’ve learned is that heart disease in women is different. The physiology, how it manifests, the symptoms," said Dr. Sanghani. "Patients can still come in with chest pain. They can even have troponin leaks or small heart attacks. But in the past, they were often blown off because we looked at an angiogram which just focused on those three largest arteries and told your heart arteries are normal."

In addition to seeing patients, Dr. Sanghani is also the director of Rush University's Heart Center for Women.

"Women still present with blockages in the three big arteries – which is the most common way – but we’re appreciating now that there’s more microvascular disease and disease in the small blood vessels of the heart, which actually comprise two-thirds of your heart circulation," said Dr. Sanghani.

Given the size of these blood vessels, it usually takes a PET scan to find the blockages that cause small vessel disease.

While the damage it can cause varies, Sanghani says all of it should be taken seriously.

"Most of the time, when it's just the small vessels, it is a smaller heart attack," said Dr. Sanghani. "Every heart attack is a heart attack. It’s still some tissue dying and it puts you at risk for heart dysfunction or a weaker pump to your heart, as well as arrhythmias later on."

So, who is most likely to develop small vessel disease?

"Any women who is at risk for heart disease is at risk for small blood vessel disease. All women are at risk for heart disease over their lifetime and heart disease affects women in every single age group. We see this even in younger women," Dr. Sanghani said.

She also says we now know that pregnancy also plays a role in determining your risk.

"We know that women who had gestational diabetes or any issue with their blood pressure during pregnancy go on later on to develop earlier incidents of diabetes and blood pressure but also have emerging risk factors for heart disease," said Dr. Sanghani.

In Morris’ case, Dr. Sanghani had to run several tests before determining her heart arteries were having vasospasms, which can affect the large or the small coronary arteries.

To help manage them, Carolyn lost weight, watches her salt intake and exercises.

"I feel better. I’m not as worried about it. But I don’t think I’m totally out of the woods either so, that’s why I don’t hesitate to call Dr. Sanghani if I feel anything abnormal," Morris said.

For the average woman who doesn't have any predisposed risk factors, Dr. Sanghani says your early 40s is a good time to ask your doctor to start checking for small vessel disease.

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February may be best known for Valentine’s Day, but did you know that since 1964 it has been designated American Heart Month as well? During Heart Month, everyone is encouraged to focus on increasing public awareness about cardiovascular disease. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death, killing one out of every four Americans, and every year one in three women will be diagnosed with heart disease. This means we all know a friend or loved one that has heart disease or has died from heart disease. There is hope that by taking proactive steps, not just this month, but in the days and years to come, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from this life-threatening disease.

“The first step in the fight against heart disease is prevention and screening,” says Damon Motley, RN a cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation nurse at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Jefferson City, Mo.

One type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, where cholesterol filled plaques occlude the arteries of the heart, eventually leading to a heart attack. This is a progressive disease that begins when we are young and, depending on a number of risk factors, either stabilizes or worsens over time. Because it is a lifelong process, everyone should have at least yearly screenings performed by a health care professional for risk factors that include basic measurements for blood pressure, weight, body mass index, and labs to measure fasting blood sugar and cholesterol numbers. These numbers are important to measure and track to see trends over time and determine if interventions are needed to manage them.

If you begin to have signs and symptoms that your heart is not getting good blood flow, such as chest pain or pressure with exertion, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, cold sweats, or shortness of breath, your doctor may order more advanced screenings, such as, an electrocardiogram to check your heart rhythm; a stress test; or even a cardiac catheterization to check the coronary arteries for blockages. These tests can detect a problem early before a more serious heart attack occurs.


“The key to preventing heart disease is knowing your numbers and making healthy choices every day so that your heart stays healthy today and in the years to come,” says Motely.


Another important part of heart disease awareness that goes hand in hand with prevention is intervention. “An intervention is something you can do to actively reduce your risk for heart disease,” added Motely.

Some risk factors like age, sex, family history, socio-economic status, and environment cannot be easily changed, if at all. Fortunately, researchers have identified dozens of risk factors that can be modified, meaning that you have the power to choose and control these risk factors. These interventions could be lifestyle modifications to eat less food to lose weight; get more physical activity and exercise; stop smoking; abstain from alcohol; learn ways to better manage stress; get more sleep; and eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods. Your doctor may even prescribe medication to lower your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Learning new habits is challenging, but the more ways you can find to live a healthier lifestyle, the less chance you and your family will have of developing heart disease.

“As a cardiac rehabilitation nurse, I see first-hand the impact heart disease has on my patient’s physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Every year Heart Month renews my sense of urgency to engage with others on this important topic,” said Motley.

February is filled with opportunities to learn more about heart disease, get screened for risk factors, and start changing your bad habits into good ones. You can make an appointment with your doctor to be screened as well as discuss your diet and exercise plans. You can take a CPR class so you are prepared to save a life should someone go into cardiac arrest. You can check-in on a loved one to make sure they are taking their medications and going to their doctor appointments. You can help spread the word and make a difference not just in your health, but in your family, friends, and community.

Heart Disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. Find out your 10-year risk for developing the condition by utilizing a FREE SSM Health Heart Risk Assessment today.

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Allergy reports are publications that show pollen levels in a person’s area. As pollen comes from a broad spectrum of plants, the reports may include details about the current top sources.

In hay fever, pollen exposure can cause symptoms such as a runny nose and sneezing. Also, asthma can involve increased sensitivity to pollen, so exposure to it may trigger an attack.

Checking daily allergy reports and taking steps to limit pollen exposure can help someone manage their symptoms.

Keep reading to learn more about allergy reports, how pollen can affect people with allergies or asthma, and how to manage weather-related allergy symptoms.

Allergy reports are publications of pollen levels, which vary with the weather, season, and location.

Pollen is an allergen, a substance that provokes allergy symptoms in some people. It is tiny seeds that come from flowering trees, plants, grasses, and weeds. Pollen levels indicate the amount of pollen in the air on a scale from 0–10, with higher numbers indicating greater pollen counts.

Various sources — such as government agencies and commercial research institutions — offer the public allergy reports and related information. Below are some examples:

The above sources differ somewhat in the information they offer. Some reports characterize the pollen counts as low, moderate, or high. Aside from providing the current level, they may also forecast levels for the following day or days.

Some, namely the Allergy & Asthma Network, provide allergy and asthma indexes instead of an allergy report.

An allergy index reflects a combination of plant growth stages and weather factors that increase pollen levels. An asthma index is a combination of weather factors that can trigger asthma. In both indexes, higher numbers indicate worse conditions for allergies or asthma.

As pollution may affect allergies and asthma, a resource for the air quality index — such as AirNow — is also helpful.

Learn more about allergens throughout the seasons.

Pollen can cause the below allergic reactions:

  • Hay fever: Also known as allergic rhinitis. Hay fever occurs when pollen enters the body and the immune system mistakenly interprets it as something to attack. This causes the release of chemicals that produce a runny nose, sneezing, and congestion. It affects as many as 60 million people in the United States.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis: Pollen and other allergens can cause this condition, which involves inflammation of the lining of the eye. Symptoms include itchy, red, watery eyes. It affects up to 7 in 10 people with hay fever.
  • Asthma: Individuals with asthma may have increased sensitivity to pollen. Exposure to pollen has an association with asthma attacks and more hospital admissions for respiratory conditions.

Pollen is typically higher in the warmer months, which can cause symptoms in people with seasonal allergies. However, some plants disperse pollen throughout the year.

Regardless of the season, weather can influence allergy and asthma symptoms in the following ways:

  • Humidity: Humid air makes it harder to breathe. This can trigger asthma and allergy flare-ups because moist environments foster increased mold and bacteria growth.
  • Cold, dry air: This can cause air passages to narrow and spasm, which may worsen symptoms.
  • Hot weather: This can negatively affect air quality and cause the pollutant ozone to rise to dangerous levels. Ozone irritates the breathing passages and can make breathing more difficult for a person with asthma.
  • Changing weather patterns: The altered barometric pressure accompanying changing weather may make breathing more difficult for people with asthma.
  • Thunderstorms: Winds from a storm can blow pollen everywhere and trigger symptoms.

The Allergy & Asthma Network provides the following tips for symptom management:

  • Keep an eye on weather and air quality: An app or weather forecast website can alert someone to changes that may affect them. Such changes include pollen count, air quality index, temperature, humidity, and changes in barometric pressure.
  • Wear a mask when working outdoors: This can limit exposure to mold spores when mowing the lawn or gardening.
  • Maintain steady humidity levels indoors: Using air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and humidifiers can help prevent airway inflammation.
  • Limit outdoor exercise when necessary: Exercise is very beneficial for health, but when the air quality is poor, or the weather has a negative effect on breathing, it is better to exercise indoors.
  • Cover the mouth and nose with a scarf in cold weather: This humidifies and warms the air before breathing it in.
  • Take prescribed asthma medication: This measure — as well as following other doctor’s advice — can help control asthma.

Additional recommendations from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security include:

  • Shower immediately after spending time outdoors to wash pollen off the skin.
  • When weather conditions increase pollen, keep windows in the house and car closed.
  • Brush off pets if they have been outdoors to prevent them from bringing allergens indoors.

Allergy reports provide local pollen levels and often details about current plant sources that contribute to these levels. Since pollen exposure can cause symptoms in those with hay fever and asthma, monitoring the reports offers a means of managing the conditions.

For example, if someone needs to mow their yard, they can use the reports to schedule the task for when pollen counts are lower. The reports can also guide a person in when outdoor exercise is likely to cause difficulties so that they can plan on indoor exercise instead.

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Quick Take

A social media post recommends that drinking fenugreek, ginger, and honey can cure asthma. We fact-checked and found the claim to be Mostly False.

Rating

The Claim 

A Facebook post claims that fenugreek, ginger, and honey can cure asthma.

We have attached a screenshot of the post below:

Asthma claim

Fact Check

What is asthma?

Asthma involves the respiratory tract, causing it to narrow and swell due to excess mucus. This narrowing and swelling make breathing challenging, often followed by wheezing sounds. Additionally, individuals with asthma may experience frequent coughing and difficulty breathing.

Can asthma be cured completely?

Not exactly. Asthma is considered a chronic condition, meaning it typically cannot be cured completely. However, with proper management, including medication and lifestyle adjustments, most people with asthma can control their symptoms effectively and lead normal lives. Individuals with asthma need to work closely with their doctors to develop a personalized treatment plan that meets their needs and helps them manage their symptoms effectively. Research into potential cures or more effective treatments for asthma continues. But as of now, there is no universally accepted cure.

Pulmonologist

We asked Pulmonologist Dr Muhammed Anas, NMC HealthCare if asthma can be cured completely. To this, he said “It is highly unlikely that asthma can be cured completely. It is a lifelong disease that can only be controlled with medicines and a healthy lifestyle. Once fully controlled, people can stop medicines and continue to control asthma with lifestyle changes. But anytime in life if people get exposed to their triggers again, asthma can come back, for which medicines will be required again. Triggering factors can be allergens like climate change or pollution and others”.

We further asked Dr Anas to explain if diet can cure asthma. To this, he said “It is unlikely that diet can cure asthma. As people can be allergic to certain food items, it is better to know your food triggers and avoid them completely. It is crucial to not believe that diet can cure asthma as it can delay the required line of treatment. In India, asthma is treated as per the global GINA guidelines.”

There is no one reason that makes the airway sensitive to asthma attacks. Due to this, it is difficult to confirm a single treatment for asthma. The existing treatments can only control the symptoms to help people with the condition live a normal and healthy life.

Even the ayurvedic treatment can manage asthma. However, ayurveda has started researching about controlling the disease rather than reducing the symptoms. Ayurveda is improving on herbal remedies and yoga to relax the airway. 

It is important to understand that Ayurveda is not widely practiced in many countries. If you are considering Ayurvedic treatment for asthma, you may not typically be prescribed conventional medications like bronchodilators, nebulizers, or pills. This deviation from mainstream medical practices can raise concerns for some individuals who may prefer conventional treatments. Nevertheless, Ayurveda enjoys widespread practice in India, supported by the AYUSH ministry, which advocates for traditional medicine systems and healthcare.

Pulmonologist

Dr Sarthak Rastogi, Pulmonologist at Jaslok Hospital and Research Center, informs that some home remedies may help with asthma to a very limited extent. They cannot control your asthma symptoms or treat your asthma exacerbation episodes, and they definitely cannot cure it.

Can fenugreek, ginger, and honey cure asthma?

Not exactly. Eating fenugreek, ginger and honey cannot cure asthma. However, it may soothe the symptoms in some people. 

The available evidence suggest that fenugreek has anti-inflammatory properties. But research on its effectiveness for asthma is inconclusive. Likewise honey may soothe a sore throat and cough, but there is no evidence it treats asthma itself. 

Even ginger possess anti-inflammatory and bronchodilatory properties. But again, studies on its effectiveness for asthma are limited.

We further found that there is no definitive cause of asthma. The U.S. National Institue of Health website informs that environmental and genetic factors contributes to disease development.

  1. Genetic factors: Various genes have been linked to increased susceptibility to the risk factors of Asthma.
  2. Environmental factors: Many substances, called allergens, are present in the environment and cause airways inflammation. The most common triggers are pollen, dust, fungal spores, pet fur, etc.
Kamna Tank, Nutritionist

Dietician Kamna Chauhan says “Fruits and vegetables can be helpful against asthma because the ingredients have nutrients, antioxidant, anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties. Adding fruits and vegetables to your diet can reduce inflammation and ‘Free Radicals’ that stop cell damage. However, eating apples or any kind of fruit cannot cure asthma completely but may reduce the risk”.

What is the allopathic treatment for Asthma?

The treatment of Asthma depends on whether we are treating an attack or designing a long-term treatment:

  1. Treatment for an acute attack:

Short-Acting Beta Agonists (SABA) like salbutamol can be given under the supervision of doctors. Steroids like Beclomethasone are prescribed to decrease inflammation on an immediate basis. (Both of these medications are given in the form of inhalers).

  1. Long-term preventative treatment:

Medicines which prevent the inflammatory chemical release like Mast cell stabilizers can be administered. Long-term bronchodilators are also prescribed.

Furthermore, attacks can be minimized by avoiding trigger allergens, avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, getting vaccinated with the latest flu shots, avoiding rigorous workouts in case of exercise-induced asthma and changing professions in case of occupational asthma. 

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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After two years since the escalation of war in Ukraine, the death toll has surged, leaving hundreds of thousands injured and nearly 10 million displaced. We hear from our patients and teams about the mental health and physical rehabilitation needs on the ground.

"About six months ago, everything was shelled -- the medical point, the pharmacy, and all the infrastructure was destroyed... but it wasn't the end. We built houses, we strengthened our community," says Liudmyla Karatsiuba, a resident in a village near Kupiansk, one of the most volatile areas on the frontline in Ukraine, in the northeast of the country.

Following the Ukrainian forces' partial retaking of the Kharkiv region in September 2022 and the frontline shifting further from Kupiansk, a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical team arrived in Liudmyla's village to offer medical treatment.

The shelling had left no public buildings for the team to set up a clinic, so Liudmyla agreed to let the team use her home, where they provided medical and psychological consultations to people from the entire community.

"I still follow the advice given by MSF psychologists, and I teach my neighbours the candle breathing exercise for calmness and balance," says Liudmyla. "It has helped me remain focused on being useful at the age of 75. Currently, I am engaged in farming and raising rabbits."

The breathing exercise Liudmyla refers to is a simple technique used to ease stress and anxiety. MSF mobile teams in Ukraine have shared breathing exercises that can be easily passed on to people as part of their work to treat and raise the profile of mental health care. The same teams worked with Liudmyla's community to rebuild the only local medical point, where Ministry of Health workers have now returned.

"Our medical centre is now referred to as the 'museum' because it's so new. Now there's somewhere to go when we need treatment or medicine," says Liudmyla.

Liudmyla is typical of the types of patients our teams see near the frontline. Since the dramatic escalation of the war in February 2022, MSF has been conducting mobile clinics in the adjacent regions.

"Most of our patients have been women over the age of 60, many of them suffering from chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes," says Maksym Zharikov, MSF deputy medical coordinator in Ukraine.

"While some were evacuated, others couldn't leave or chose to remain in their communities. The urgent need remains to provide medical services to patients residing 20-30 kilometres from the frontlines."

This trend has been a constant since the war began in 2014; villages near the frontline dwindle, with fewer supplies in the markets and medical centres, and fewer people. However, following the war's escalation, nearly 10 million people are displaced today, either inside Ukraine or as refugees abroad.

Our teams have been able to support some of these communities with supplies, medical care, and reconstruction. However, more often it is the communities themselves, with the aid of local volunteer organisations, that carry out this work. In the last two years, it has become increasingly difficult to reach areas cut off by fighting or close to the frontlines.

Today, we run mobile clinics in 100 different towns and villages near the frontline in the Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Kherson regions. These clinics usually comprise a therapist, a psychologist, a medical doctor, and a social worker.

Psychological support during wartime in Ukraine

"I can see that my younger son, Vania, needs more care and attention now. He often asks to be hugged and asks how much I love him," says Olena Beda, who has been living in a shelter for displaced people in the Kirovohrad region for over a year with her two children, after fleeing war in the Donetsk region.

Although they settled in an area relatively far from the frontlines, drones and missiles have become a relentless part of life in the past two years. Vania began to have trouble sleeping, particularly after shelling.

After our team of psychologists started conducting group play sessions for the children at the shelter, Olena felt that Vania's anxiety began diminishing; he was able to go back to school and made new friends.

"However, sudden loud noises and conversations about the war can trigger a sudden change in his condition," says Olena.

In the past two years in Ukraine, our teams have provided 26,324 people with psychological consultations. In shelters for people who have been displaced, the main group of patients consists of mothers with children.

"At the onset of the escalation, we observed symptoms in children such as anxiety, panic attacks, and fear," says Alisa Kushnirova, an MSF psychologist. "However, we now notice that children have begun to perceive the abnormal situation as normal - they have adapted to the sounds of explosions, though we still observe neurotic reactions."

Our teams also provide psychological support to families, including adults; the mental health of adults is key in maintaining a positive psychological environment within the family, as parents' condition is often reflected in children.

Emergency evacuations and early physical rehabilitation

"On 18 April 2023, I lost my leg," says Tetiana Doloza, an MSF patient. "The market where I worked as a salesperson in the city of Ukrainsk, in Donetsk region, was hit by missiles, and I was severely injured."

It's been 10 months since Tetiana lost her leg. Today, she walks in Kyiv with confidence, relying on a prosthetic limb and crutches for support. Tetiana was evacuated from the market to a hospital and transported by our medical train to the Lviv region, where doctors and physiotherapists fitted her with a prosthesis.

"When MSF doctors took me to the hospital in the west of the country, I felt lost. I didn't know how I would cope with an amputation," says Tetiana. "Now, with a prosthetic limb, I live in Kyiv with my son, and at 72 years old, I am happy to have survived."

"Between March 2022 to December 2023, our medical evacuation train transported 3,808 patients, 310 of whom were in critical condition," says Albina Zharkova, MSF project coordinator. "In 2022 and early 2023, the evacuation train was essential for referring people to safer locations and hospitals for treatment. Now the needs have shifted, and our ambulances are the ones doing shorter referrals."

Today, due to a change in the war's dynamic, patients are now staying in eastern Ukraine, rather than being referred to the West. But our teams continue to operate 15 ambulances that refer people wounded by the shelling or chronically ill patients to medical facilities farther away from the front.

As international attention on the humanitarian consequences of the war in Ukraine diminishes, the fighting on the frontlines remains as devastating as ever. From 2014 to 2022, more than 14,000 people were killed. Since February 2022 this number has multiplied, with hundreds of thousands wounded physically and psychologically, and almost 10 million people displaced.

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The ability to customise your character’s Breathing Style is one of the most unique aspects of Project Slayers. In this guide, we’ll cover the location of Wind Breathing in Project Slayers, one of the best Styles for the early game.

Project Slayers is a Roblox Action RPG based on the popular Demon Slayer series. As with many Roblox anime games, it gives you an open world to explore and a character to build, with plenty of challenges to keep things interesting. If you’re just starting out, and wondering which Breath Style to go for, then this guide will be a major help on your journey.

You can dive into Project Slayers right now via Roblox. If you want a wind-themed weapon to go with your new Breath Style, then our guide on how to get the War Fans in Project Slayers can help you out.

Project Slayers Wind Breathing Location Guide

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of learning the Wind Breathing Breathing Style. We’ll also go over its unique moveset, to show you just how powerful this technique can be.

How To Learn Wind Breathing

To learn Wind Breathing, you’ll first need to talk to an NPC called Jinger. He can be found at his house, north of Kabiwaru Village. If you speak to him, he’ll offer to teach you Wind Breathing, provided you’re at least level 12 and have 5,000 Wen to pay for the training fees.

Once you’re level 12 and you’ve paid Jinger, your training will begin. This takes the form of a series of five Quests, all of which can be easily completed with no pre-requisites. These are as follows:

  • Pulling A Boulder – Jinger will ask you to move a boulder to a designated area nearby.
  • Target Practice – A mini-game where you need to click on targets in quick succession.
  • Building Your Core – A mini-game where you need to press a specific key as fast as possible to perform push-ups and fill up your bar.
  • Training Your Upper Body – Functionally the same as the previous Quest, but instead of doing push-ups you’re cutting a boulder in half instead.
  • Battling Sanemi – Once you’ve cleared all of the above Quests, you’ll need to take on the Wind Trainee Sanemi to finish your training. He’s only a Tier 1 Boss, so he shouldn’t be too difficult.

Once you’ve completed all of the above Quests, Wind Breathing will be yours!

Wind Breathing Moveset

Once you’ve claimed Wind Breathing for your own, you’ll have access to the following special moves:

Move Name Key Used Mastery Required Breath Usage Description
Purifying Wind Z 1 17 A vertical wind slash in front of your character.
Dust Whirlwind Cutter X 15 23 A forward dash that deals damage to anything it touches.
Clean Storm Wind Tree C 22 23 A spin attack that deals damage in a circle around your character.
Black Wind Mountain Mist V 30 29 A wind uppercut that deals damage in front and behind your character.
Cold Mountain Wind B 37 20 A spin attack like Clean Storm Wind Tree, but performed three times in quick succession.
Itaden Typhoon N 50 20 A backwards dash followed by a powerful barrage of wind in front of your character.

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Raquel Rodriguez has been touted to be a future star power of the WWE Women’s Division upon arriving on the main roster from NXT. She has been a mainstay of the women’s locker room for a long time, and fans have certainly warmed up to see her unraveling her wings as a top babyface star of the roster. She has been absent from WWE television for a while before coming back, this week on Raw.

The former WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion has not been active in the ring since the WWE live event on December 3. Raquel Rodriguez suffered an injury during the Survivor Series go-home edition of SmackDown due to a backstage assault. Later that night, Ronda Rousey and Baszler reaggravated that injury which was a kayfabe one. WWE further announced that she was dealing with a broken arm and dislocated elbow during that attack.

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In reality, Raquel Rodriguez has long been dealing with MCAS (Mast Cell Activation Syndrome). American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology defines MCAS as a condition where the patient experiences repeated episodes of the symptoms of anaphylaxis – allergic symptoms such as hives, swelling, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and severe diarrhea.

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Raquel Rodriguez still on the road to recovery from her syndrome

Raquel Rodriguez took to her Instagram and revealed to the world how this diagnosis related to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome has affected her career and that was the reason that she didn’t want to appear on WWE television. In the latest, she posted another video that the full journey to recovery is yet to be made by her,

“The journey is far from over. I finally got some answers as to what caused this but it’s going to be a while till I can get it fully under control. I know one thing. I’m blessed to have an amazing support system. Family, friends, I love you all. Keep pushing through the pain!”

On this week’s episode of Raw, active names from Raw and Smackdown like Shayna Baszler, Zoey Stark, Zelina Vega, Chelsea Green, Michin’, and Alba Fyre, and more participated in this over-the-top-rope melee. This match also saw the return of the dominant Raquel Rodriguez who eventually picked up the win and now she’s heading to the Women’s Elimination Chamber 2024 bout set for this weekend.



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Someone with COVID-19 might expect to experience fatigue, cold and flu symptoms, and loss of taste and smell — but a paralyzed diaphragm would likely not be on the radar.

It was certainly a surprise to Gerald Branim, 55, a runner from Tennessee. His life took a drastic turn when COVID-19 damaged his lungs and diaphragm to the extent that he was unable to run or walk for a year.

Branim and his doctor, Matthew Kaufman of the Institute of Advanced Reconstruction in New Jersey, joined Fox News Digital in an interview to discuss Branim’s ordeal and recovery.

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When Branim got COVID in Feb. 2021, he was a fit, healthy 52-year-old who ran marathons. 

In spite of that, the infection caused significant lung damage. He spent two weeks in the hospital and three months out of work.

Gerald Branim - half-marathon

Gerald Branim, 55, was a marathon runner when he got COVID, which led to a paralyzed diaphragm that stopped him in his tracks.  (Institute for Advanced Reconstruction)

For two months after leaving the hospital, Branim used a walker as he continued struggling with lung complications.

"For someone who had run marathons, it was quite humbling to have to walk with a walker for three months," he said.

After rounds of high-dose steroids and lots of antibiotics, Branim’s chest X-rays finally showed that his lungs had cleared — but he was still having trouble functioning.

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"I still couldn’t go upstairs without my oxygen dropping severely," he recalled. "I couldn't run 100 yards without my oxygen dropping into dangerous levels. I was severely out of breath."

"That's when they started saying something else was going on — that this shouldn't be happening."

"I couldn't run 100 yards without my oxygen dropping into dangerous levels. I was severely out of breath."

After 10 months of not being able to walk or run, Branim’s condition was finally diagnosed via a "sniff test," which is also called a chest fluoroscopy or a video chest X-ray, where the patient is asked to breathe in and out. 

Any paralysis will show up on the scan, as the diaphragm won’t move upon breathing.

What to know about diaphragm paralysis

Diaphragm paralysis — which is a "pretty rare condition," according to Kaufman, Branim's doctor — is paralysis of the diaphragm muscle, which is the primary breathing muscle. 

Previous studies have estimated that the condition affects only about 1.31% of the population. In about 95% of cases, only one side is paralyzed, the doctor noted.

"We have two diaphragms, one on the right, one on the left," he said.

Gerald Branim with doctor and patient

Branim, far right, is pictured with his doctor, Matthew Kaufman, center, and another patient at the half-marathon they ran together after Branim's surgery. (Institute for Advanced Reconstruction)

In cases where both sides are paralyzed, symptoms will be much more severe, usually requiring the patient to be put on oxygen.

"It’s become sort of a phenomenon," Kaufman told Fox News Digital. "The phrenic nerve, which is the nerve that controls the diaphragm, seems to be an area where the COVID virus can have an impact."

In some ways, he said, the condition can be considered part of long COVID, which is when symptoms of the virus linger for weeks, months or even years after infection.

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Most people with diaphragm paralysis won’t have difficulty breathing while sitting. Symptoms will typically emerge with exertion, such as walking or exercising, or when changing positions, such as lying flat in bed or bending over to tie their shoes, Kaufman said.

Some people are more susceptible than others, the doctor noted.

"We know that viruses tend to attack nerves in the body, as we’ve seen in Bell’s palsy," he said. "And now we’re seeing it with COVID causing injury to the phrenic nerve."

Gerald Branim

Branim set a goal of running a half-marathon within a year of his surgery date, which he achieved alongside his doctor in April 2023. (Institute for Advanced Reconstruction)

Because the condition is rare to begin with, he said, it’s not something that’s universally known.

"And then you take a condition like COVID, which causes respiratory symptoms from inflammation in the airways and lungs, and then you tie in what we consider to be a neuromuscular problem," Kaufman said.

"A lot of times, the physician or patient will attribute it to airway inflammation, when in fact it's a problem related to nerves and muscles that are part of the respiratory system."

ASK A DOC: 'WHEN IS A COUGH SOMETHING TO WORRY ABOUT?'

In some cases, patients will recover on their own, Kaufman said.

"We usually recommend a period of about six to 12 months of physical therapy, breathing exercises and cardiovascular fitness to try to see if this will come back on its own," he said.

If improvement is not noticed in that time frame, surgical intervention becomes a possibility.

Gerald Branim

Branim emphasized the importance of patients serving as their own advocates. "Doctors are human — they don't know everything," he said. "So you have to advocate for yourself." (Institute for Advanced Reconstruction)

In 2020 and 2021, Kaufman said he saw an uptick of patients who experienced diaphragm paralysis after having COVID. Although he is still seeing some cases, they are starting to trail off a bit.

"That could be because the classic COVID is not as virulent or severe," he said. "Or maybe it’s because more people are immunized."

Although the condition is generally not life-threatening, it can be more severe in patients who have existing respiratory conditions.

Racing toward recovery

After Branim’s diagnosis, his lung doctor advised him to continue to give it time to heal.

"But it wasn’t getting any better," he said. "And I just wasn't satisfied with that being my new quality of life."

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That’s when Branim turned to Google to research surgical options. He came across an article by Kaufman, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon who specializes in an area called peripheral nerve microsurgery.

Kaufman specializes in conditions that cause either pain or paralysis due to nerve damage of the peripheral nervous system. 

After meeting with Kaufman in a telehealth visit, Branim was identified as a prime candidate for the surgery, which is called phrenic nerve reconstruction. 

"It wasn’t getting any better — and I just wasn't satisfied with that being my new quality of life."

If he had waited much longer, he said, his diaphragm muscle would have atrophied and the surgery would no longer have been possible.

After a lot of back and forth with the insurance company, Branim finally got the green light to travel from Nashville to New Jersey for the procedure.

The surgery went smoothly, although Branim was told that it wouldn’t be an immediate improvement. Once the nerve is fixed, the muscle still needs time to strengthen and rehabilitate.

Gerald Branim

Studies have estimated that the condition affects only about 1.31% of the population. In about 95% of cases, only one side is paralyzed. (Institute for Advanced Reconstruction)

"Dr. Kaufman told me that it would probably take a year or two to recover fully, and was preaching patience — but I'm not a patient man in the slightest sense of the word," Branim laughed.

He set a goal of running a half-marathon within a year of his surgery date.

After four weeks, Branim slowly began exercising again. After six months, he decided to lace up his running shoes and give it a try.

"My very first run after the surgery, I ran five miles," he said. "I literally cried. At that point, it was like a light switch had been flipped."

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Within six months, Branim had not only regained his ability to run, but exceeded his original goals, culminating in a half-marathon in April 2023.

In a triumphant twist, Kaufman, who is also a runner, joined his patient in completing the race in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Now, Branim aims to raise awareness about diaphragm paralysis, an often-overlooked condition that is not on most doctors’ or patients’ radars.

diaphragm

Previous studies have estimated that the condition affects only about 1.31% of the population. In about 95% of cases, only one side is paralyzed. (iStock)

"None of my doctors had even heard of this surgery," he said. "Had I not found the article about Dr. Kaufman and another runner online, I would have never been able to have the surgery — and I would absolutely not be running today." 

Branim emphasized the importance of patients serving as their own advocates.

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"Doctors are human — they don't know everything," he said. "So you have to advocate for yourself."

For patients who are experiencing shortness of breath with exertion that persists for several months, Kaufman recommends visiting a primary care physician or pulmonary physician to get the necessary testing.

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"While most tests will find more common ailments, it definitely makes sense to keep a paralyzed diaphragm on the list of things to rule out."

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews/health.

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For Larry and Judy Schepers, cultivating an annual garden of flowers and vegetables in the backyard of their Jefferson City home is a tradition.

The retirees make time to visit their kids and grandkids in Jefferson City and Atlanta, Georgia, and Larry still enjoys playing a round of golf a few times a week. But around the house, that garden is their pride and joy.

"I mow the grass and till up the plots each year," Schepers said. "Judy does all the stuff that looks good in the yard. We have tomatoes and other vegetables every year that she cooks with."

In the spring of 2023, Larry noticed the work of turning the soil with a spading fork left him feeling more and more drained. It wasn’t as easy to enjoy an 18-hole outing either. And although he knew he wasn’t getting any younger, Larry didn’t think his exhaustion had much to do with his age.

Kevin Lease, MD

During an annual checkup Schepers mentioned this feeling to his doctor, Kevin Lease, MD. Lease promised Larry that the doctors at MU Health Care would help him find out what was going on. One of the tests he helped the Schepers schedule was a Love Your Heart Cardiac Screening.

"The screening was very easy, very simple," Schepers said. "It took less than an hour and cost $120 without insurance. And it gives you and your doctor a lot of useful information."

This evaluation takes less than an hour, and by using a blood draw, a blood pressure check and a low-radiation CT scan called a coronary artery calcium scan, helps the cardiovascular experts at MU Health Care classify your risk of developing heart conditions like heart disease, and of suffering a heart attack.

Brian Bostick, MD

Brian Bostick, MD, the director of MU Health Care"s Heart and Vascular Clinic, is one of the doctors who reviews test results, particularly the calcium scan, to tailor heart care to the individual needs of each patient.

Elevated calcium near the heart is strong evidence of plaque buildup which can directly cause heart attacks. A coronary calcium scan is the best way to noninvasively assess the condition of the arteries.

"The Love Your Heart Cardiac Screening really helps to define your risk better," Bostick said. "The risk calculators we use currently have a wider margin of error and the coronary calcium scan can reclassify your risk significantly. Particularly when a screen is negative for any signs of disease, it really lowers the risk of heart disease substantially."

Even though his other test results — cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood glucose — showed he was at low risk, the coronary calcium score said otherwise. His cardiac calcium score was 1900.

"Dr. Lease told me, ‘That's the highest number I've ever seen,'" Schepers said. "That got my attention right away."

Although Larry had come to his doctors without any obvious symptoms of heart conditions, he had a family history of them in his father and son. The coronary calcium score from his Love Your Heart screening warranted a referral to interventional cardiologist Arun Kumar, MD.

Arun Kumar, MD

Kumar performed a heart catheterization procedure, which found a 90% blockage in Schepers' right coronary artery. Kumar placed a stent to open the blockage and greatly lower the chance Schepers would have a heart attack in the future.

"Larry's screening results really showed us that he was exactly who the Love Your Heart Cardiac Screening was designed for," Bostick said. "Larry was someone who, like most of us, doesn't have symptoms until an event happens. This scan caught a likely event before it happened."

Schepers' first appointment with Lease was in May, and in June his blockage was cleared. As a participant in MU Health Care's cardiac rehab, which includes physical exercise and diet and nutrition classes, he was happy to learn a lot of the things he and Judy had already been preparing in the kitchen were heart healthy.

"My wife is a great cook, and we eat a lot of fish and chicken, not so much red meat," Schepers said. "A lot of what we use, tomatoes and various vegetables, come from our garden."

Like the annual renewal that comes with each spring, and enhanced by refreshing the soil, Larry's energy has been renewed now that his heart blockage has been cleared.

"Had I not taken that test, I wouldn't have the peace of mind that I have today," Schepers said.

MU Health Care's heart experts recommend a Love Your Heart Cardiac Screening for people who have:

  • A family history of heart disease
  • A history of smoking
  • High blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes


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