Car accident? Think brain injury!

Every day, motorists are at a high risk of getting involved in a car accident. Tens of thousands of car accidents happen each year resulting in the deaths of many motorists. According to the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 30,000 people are killed in car accidents each year.

Drivers and passengers who survive major car accidents are not safe from different types of life-altering injuries, like a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.7 million people sustain a TBI each year, and one of the leading causes? You guessed it – car crashes.

Serious car accident victims are at risk of sustaining a TBI because their heads are exposed to the forceful impact of the crash. A person can suffer from a TBI when his head gets hit by an abrupt force. The force can cause the brain to bruise or blood vessels to rupture, leaking into the skull cavity. This causes the loss of much needed oxygen to the brain and if this is not treated promptly, could result in severe or even fatal brain damage.

If you are in, or witness a car accident, be vigilant for early signs of Traumatic Brain Injuries and know the signs!

Classic early signs & symptoms of a TBI may include:

• Loss of consciousness
• Unequal pupils
• Spinal fluid secretion from ears or nose
• Inability to focus vision
• Balancing problems
• Dizziness & light headedness
• Difficulty breathing
• Persistent vomiting

Late appearing signs & symptoms of a TBI may include:

• Recurring headaches
• Difficulty hearing
• Mood swings, irritability, improper anger, and frustration
• Slowing pulse rate
• Difficulty in processing of thoughts
• Tiredness or lethargy
• Bruising around both eyes and/or behind the ears
• Anterograde amnesia
• Widening blood pressure
• Erratic respirations

Anyone who shows the signs and symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury (especially anyone who was involved in a motor vehicle accident) should go to the hospital immediately! Seek a physician’s advice when it comes to treatment and rehabilitation – don’t just ignore the signs!

Learn more at: http://www.cdc.gov/TraumaticBrainInjury

Many deaths from heart disease, stroke could be avoided

About 800,000 people die each year from cardiovascular disease. But as many as 200,000 of the deaths from heart disease and stroke could be prevented if people made healthy changes including stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, doing more physical activity, eating less salt and managing their high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, says a government report out today.

Although the rate of death (deaths per 100,000 people) from cardiovascular disease declined by 29% between 2001 and 2010, it’s still the leading cause of death in the USA, says the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It accounts for one in three deaths in this country.

“These findings are really striking because we are talking about hundreds of thousands of deaths that don’t have to happen when they happen,” says Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC.

For the latest analysis, CDC researchers looked at National Vital Statistics System mortality data from the period 2001-2010.

Preventable/avoidable deaths were defined as all deaths from heart disease and stroke in people under age 75 because if their risk factors (smoking, blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity) had been under control they should have lived longer, says the lead author Linda Schieb, a CDC epidemiologist. The current life expectancy in the USA is age 78 so if people died sooner than that it is considered early or premature, she says.

• About 56% of preventable deaths from cardiovascular disease (112,000 deaths) in 2010 occurred in people under 65 years old. That number remained about the same between 2001 and 2010.

• The number of preventable deaths from heart disease and stroke decreased by 25% between 2001 and 2010 for people ages 65 to 74.

• Still, the highest overall death rate from cardiovascular disease was in the 65-74 age group with 401.5 deaths from cardiovascular disease per 100,000 people.

• Men have the highest risk of death from heart disease and stroke across all races and ethnic groups. Black men are most at risk.

• Blacks are nearly twice as likely as whites to die early from heart disease and stroke.

• Compared with whites, blacks have a higher prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, low consumption of fruit and vegetables and poor control of bad (LDL) cholesterol.

• Rates of preventable death from heart disease and stroke are highest in the South.

It’s unfortunate that your longevity may be influenced more by your “ZIP code” than “genetic code,” Frieden says.

He says preventable death rates may decrease when more people have health coverage and access to screening and treatment through the Affordable Care Act.

“This report shows we’re making some improvements, but we’re not making enough improvements especially for people at high risk such as black men and women,” says preventive cardiologist Gina Lundberg, an assistant professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

“Americans need to take better control of their health and be more aggressive in controlling their blood pressure, their cholesterol, their weight, their exercise habits — and to stop smoking,” she says.

Cardiologist Mariell Jessup, president of the American Heart Association, says the biggest barriers to success in changing this trend are projected increases in obesity and type 2 diabetes, and only modest improvements in diet and physical activity. “Despite progress in smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure rates, obesity and diabetes are on the rise and must be addressed for heart disease and stroke deaths to drop 20% by 2020, a major American Heart Association goal.”

The CDC recommends:

• You should have a conversation with a health care provider about using aspirin when appropriate, controlling blood pressure, managing your cholesterol, and quitting smoking.

• If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, get help to quit.

• Try going for a brisk 10-minute walk, three times a day, five days a week.

• Eat a heart-healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium and trans fats.

• Work to maintain a healthy weight.

• Know the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke and get help as needed.

According to the American Heart Association, most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. It may include shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.

The heart association says that signs of a stroke include face drooping, arm weakness or numbness and speech difficulty.

For more information, go to heart.org/warningsigns.

Lyme Disease Even Scarier? Maybe…

Black-legged (Deer) Tick Photo, NPMA

Black-legged (Deer) Tick
(Photo: National Pest Management Association)

The height of tick season generally brings a spate of scary stories about Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses, and this year’s seem especially high on the heebie-jeebies scale.

(more…)

Are You Tasty to a Mosquito?

Whether you’re one of those people who gets eaten alive by mosquitoes depends on some pretty tangible factors, and Smithsonian Magazine runs down the reasons that make an estimated 20% of us especially delectable to those buzzing little bloodsuckers. (more…)

Lyme Disease in Virginia Grows

In Virginia the most common tick bite comes from the Lone Star tick. “You’ll pick up 50 to 100 Lone Stars for every one black-legged tick,” said David Gaines, state entomologist. Yet Lyme Disease, carried exclusively by the immature black-legged, or deer tick, is the most common tick-borne disease in the state, with more than 1,100 cases last year, according to Health Department statistics. Of those, the local region recorded only about two dozen. (more…)

CDC: Cut Back on Doxycycline Use

A continuing shortage of doxycycline means the drug should be used only for conditions that have no alternative treatments, the CDC advised this week. (more…)

Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Emergencies

The best defense is prevention. Here are some prevention tips:

  • Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
  • (more…)

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