Tag Archives: high blood pressure

The Legs Have It – Our Heart – Happy February Heart Month!

As a person with chronic lower leg issues who recently called 911 believing I might be having a heart attack the following article shows the relationship between our heart and leg vascular disease.  Educating ourselves can make the difference between living  and living a quality life.


“Approximately nine million Americans over the age of 50 are living with a disease that affects their legs and raises their risk of having a heart attack. Unfortunately, many with the disease do not even know they have it. February is Heart Month, and the Vascular Disease Foundation and its P.A.D. Coalition are urging Americans to listen to their legs and be alert to the signs of peripheral arterial disease, or P.A.D.

P.A.D. occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed or clogged with fatty deposits, reducing blood flow to the legs. This can result in leg muscle pain when walking, disability, amputation, and poor quality of life. If you have blocked arteries somewhere in the body, you are likely to have them elsewhere. Thus, P.A.D. is a red flag that other arteries, including those in the heart, are likely affected – increasing the risk of a heart disease, heart attack and even death.

In many, P.A.D. is a silent disease, causing no recognizable symptoms. People with P.A.D. may have one or more of the following symptoms:

– “Claudication” – fatigue, heaviness, tiredness or cramping in the leg muscles (calf, thigh or buttocks) that occurs during activity such as walking and goes away with rest.

“Often, people think leg discomfort or slow healing sores are just a part of aging, yet they can be signs of a serious disease,” stated Joseph Caporusso, DPM, Chair of the P.A.D. Coalition. “Through early detection and proper treatment, we can reduce the devastating consequences of P.A.D. and improve the nation’s cardiovascular health.”

Everyone over age 50 is at risk for P.A.D., and your risk increases if you:

– Smoke, or used to smoke

– Have diabetes

– Have high blood pressure

– Have abnormal blood cholesterol

– Are African American

– Have a personal history of coronary heart disease or stroke…”

Source: Vascular Disease Foundation


More later… Sharon O’Hara

COPD, Professor William MacNee Clicked for this COPDer


Ref:  Early detection public COPD Spirometry,  World Spirometry Day and World COPD Day

I called our health district yesterday and spoke with  Cris Craig, Kitsap County Health District Public Information Officer.  She couldn’t answer my question about the health department offering free spirometry to the public.  She did say in a cheerful voice she would call in about three weeks with a response.  THAT is good news and she didn’t ask what COPD was – even better..  A hopeful sign and may mean that Spirometry will be offered and made available to the public.  I believe in miracles.

Professor William MacNee and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Scotland, UK website has superb graphics – the best explanation of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) I’ve seen in one place.  His ‘The Latest Trends in COPD Research’ graphically shows why early detection Spirometry is important.

For many of us COPD is an ongoing magnet for other disease, including some really difficult stuff.  COPD and lung disease can be the beginning of a long list of personal medical challenges expanding the patient’s medical disease library.  Whatever needs to happen to avoid COPD in your life get tested for early detection and do whatever is needed to get it done.

My son, Al and I were visiting family in Northern Norway  in1997.  I didn’t know then my 40 year smoking habit was almost over.  And so was I.   I was beginning to feel sick.  The day after this picture was taken, I had to see a Norwegian doctor.  She examined me and prescribed medications for Pleurisy and Chronic Bronchitis.  The medication worked, the pain receded and we were back on schedule.   Within a couple weeks after this picture was taken and five days after returning home, I was in the hospital.

Life as I’d known it was over.

COPD is a friendly disease.  For me, once Emphysema (COPD) got settled in my lungs and got comfortable, she began to invite her Other Stuff Disease buddies for a sleep over.  Trouble is, they stayed over and didn’t go home.  They joined COPD trying to play Havoc with my health and life.

Following COPD was an open lung biopsy and Sarcoidosis – Sleep Apnea – RLS – Psoriasis – Venous Stasis Dermatitis  – Cellulitis – High Blood Pressure – Lymphedema – and  bone-on-bone Arthritis, left hip followed – to name a few.

Early detection Spirometry can stop COPD early – before it’s too late.  Ask your doctor.

This is where it gets tricky.  Health care is a huge problem.  COPD generally  takes twenty years developing before a person mentions symptoms to the doctor and by then about fifty percent of the lungs are destroyed….leading the patient to a long slow smother and the taxpayer choking form the cost.

Offering free Spirometry testing for early COPD detection gives the individual  warning.  If the problem is not genetic, it can be turned around. Telling isn’t enough – SHOW people what COPD can do to them and their families.  Let them meet willing patients who can show and tell… a real reality show.

Exercise works and muscle utilizes oxygen better than flab.  We can breathe better and move easier.  Exercise and understanding COPD gives us a quality of life back – to be the best we can be.  The recumbent trike takes us places we couldn’t easily go without one – fun stuff,  building muscle at the same time. We must keep moving … ask your doctor.

I did not qualify for lung reduction surgery or I would have opted to get it ..not enough good lung and I heard rave reviews from patients who had had one.  One COPDer told me the lung reduction surgery restored his life back to ‘normal’ and lasted about five years before time and COPD danced ahead.  Ask your doctor about it.

Pursed lip breathing training is a must for COPDers – it keeps us out of the panic mode and out of the hospital.  It has for me…and I tested it with my oximeter.Talk to your doctor about pulmonary rehab.  It is never too late to get better through our own efforts…what does your doctor say?

Photo taken by the photographer who traveled with the Trek.  This photo shows me on my recumbent trike flying the  COPD/EFFORTS safety flag and pedaling over Deception Pass with the American Lung Association of Washington’s three day bike ride – the Trek Tri Island.

It was the first time I had been away overnight from my house in seven years – since Harrison Hospital in 1997.  A slow trike rider, it is thanks to the wonderful volunteers who hop scotched me and my trike ahead of the other 200 plus bike riders time after time that enabled me to pedal 50 miles of the 137 mile trip. I felt free again.

Key motivators were the Shortness of Breath Study at the University of Washington Medical Center that I was lucky enough to qualify for and my online support group, EFFORTS.  Proof to me that  educating COPD patients work.

Stroke patient, Mary Griffith and her butterfly and gold star fingernails caught my eye the other day – more about Mary and husband, Doug later)

Kitsap County Health District … Will you be the first county health district in the nation to see the fiscal benefit of early detection Spirometry to protect citizens of ALL ethnic background.

The Kitsap County taxpayer and COPD future could rest in your hands.

Thank you Professor William MacNee for a great COPD informational website and allowing me to use it here.

http://www.efanet.org/activities/documents/WMcNeeLatestTrendsinCOPDResearch. pdf

More later… Sharon O’Hara

Part 4 of 4

Patients Be Aware. Mistakes Happen

Prescription Mistakes Happen – Patients Be Aware

I have never doubted that any prescription I have filled is the right one. Until now.
On Thursday, I learned to doubt. I discovered a medication I had been taking for a couple weeks was not the medication I should have been taking. The right one was the second prescription filled. The reason I know that is that the new pills did not look the same.

Patients and caregivers be aware and double check that the prescription you get is the right one. We cannot assume our newly filled prescription is the right one.
Ask your doctor and pharmacist how best to double-check. No one wants patients getting the wrong medication, least of all us. Patients – be aware. Mistakes with prescription medications can happen. The mistake can be deadly or worse. Check and double-check that the medication filled is the right one.
Patients must learn to question and double-check that the prescription and treatment is the proper one.
Mistakes happen but being aware might make the difference. In future, I will open the new refills immediately to be sure they are the ones I have been taking. I could have looked closer at the label… the drug names were close – one had an “o” and the other had an “a” …
I have been taking a high blood pressure drug for several weeks as a test to see if it worked and that I had no reaction from it. The blood pressure was down on my next doctor visit and had not noted any adverse reaction to it either and was given a I had the new script filled and continued to use what I had left.

Sometime last week, the skin on my upper right side became tender and sore. I developed a rash on my upper right arm and broke out in what appeared to be dark, fluid filled bug bites in the middle of bright red patches. The right side of my neck was and is stiff and sore. The rashes and pain spread we drove to the ER.
The new thing is Shingles and I was prescribed medications based on the list of medications I already take and gave the list to the doctor.

A prescription error happened but I did not discover it until last Thursday when I opened the new bottle of blood pressure medication and saw it was not the same drug.

The dilemma: the ER doc had prescribed two medications based on other medications, including the new one for high blood pressure. I would not begin taking an unknown drug not knowing the consequences.
I called the pharmacy. The pharmacist checked and said the drug I ‘should’ have been taking was the second one. He asked if I had any of the other pills left, no, but I did have the empty prescription bottle and yes, I took both to the pharmacy the next day.
The point here is not to moan about a mistake. The point is to bring awareness to patients that we must not assume anything.

What happened could have happened in any pharmacy …mistakes happen. I am sure the pharmacy has already set in new check guards so it does not happen again.

An error was made and joined an amazing set of circumstances and medical conditions that began with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) way back about 1995.

Folks…make sure the medication prescribed is the same one you get.
More later… Sharon O’Hara