5 Important Things You Need to Know About Stroke

Stroke Awareness Graphic

Few medical conditions are more severe or dangerous than stroke. It’s the fifth leading cause of death in America, and it’s also one of the most common causes of long-term disability.

There’s plenty to learn about the causes of and risk factors for stroke, but these are the five most important things you need to know right now:

Stroke Claims the Lives of 140,000 Americans Every Year

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stroke claims the lives of about 140,000 people in the United States per year. The CDC also estimates that stroke accounts for one out of every 20 deaths in America.

There Are Two Main Types of Stroke

A stroke occurs when something blocks the supply of blood to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. When that happens, it causes damage to parts of the brain, depending on the severity of the stroke. Here are the two main types of stroke:

Ischemic Stroke – This is the type of stroke that happens when blood flow and, as a result, the oxygen supply to the brain becomes blocked — often because of a blood clot. It’s estimated that nearly 90% of all strokes are of this type.

Hemorrhagic Stroke – This type of stroke occurs when an artery in the brain leaks or ruptures, which puts pressure on and damages brain cells.

Nearly 25% of Strokes Occur Among Stroke Survivors

While there are a variety of health conditions, behaviors, and genetic characteristics that can increase a person’s risk, one of the most prominent factors in a person’s stroke risk is whether or not they’ve had a stroke before.

The CDC estimates that about one out of every four cases of stroke occurs among people who have had a previous stroke.

You don’t have to be a victim of a full ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke to be at greater risk, either. In fact, there’s a third type of stroke, known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). While TIAs are very serious medical emergencies just like major strokes are, these “mini-strokes” are characterized by a blockage of blood flow to the brain that only lasts for a short time. As a result, TIAs are often considered warning signs for a future stroke.

Most Strokes are Preventable

Stroke is something that is largely preventable by making healthy choices in your life. This is especially important to understand if you have any of the following conditions:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Certain heart conditions

High blood pressure is one of the most prevalent conditions in Americans, so it’s even more important for everyone to keep an eye on their blood pressure to ensure it stays within a healthy range. Check out this video to learn more.

With all that in mind, here are some things you can do to reduce your level of risk:

  • Enjoy a healthy, balanced diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Engage in physical activity regularly
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit your alcohol intake

Visit the CDC’s website to learn more about how healthy lifestyle choices can improve your overall well-being and limit your risk for stroke.

Every Second Counts During a Stroke

The potential for long-term disability or even death as a result of a stroke is high, which means there’s no time to waste to get help. How can you spot the signs of stroke? Just follow the “BE FAST.” method if you think someone may be having a stroke:

Balance – Ask them if they feel like they’re losing their balance or coordination.
Eyes – Ask them if they’re having vision trouble or if things look blurry.
Face Drooping – Ask them to smile and observe whether or not one side of their face is drooping.
Arm Weakness – Ask them to raise both arms and see if one arm drifts downward.
Speech – Are they slurring their speech or are they speaking abnormally?
Time to Call 9-1-1 – If any of these symptoms are present, it’s time to call 9-1-1 immediately.

Bonus: Did You Know that University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center is a Primary Stroke Center?

We’re proud to have been designated a Primary Stroke Center by the Maryland Institute for Medical Services Systems. What this means is that we’re always ready to care for stroke patients by ensuring everything is in place to identify and intervene rapidly and effectively in cases of stroke

University of Maryland (UM) Charles Regional Medical Center has also consistently received top ratings from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association for its continued effective and efficient treatment of stroke patients.

We’re also proud to host the Stroke & Brain Injury Support Group here at the hospital. This free support group meets regularly at UM Charles Regional Medical Center and is designed for those who’ve been affected by stroke or traumatic brain injuries. Visit our Facebook page to learn more and to keep up with upcoming meeting dates.

Read More  

5 Myths — and 5 Facts — About Autism

Autism Awareness Month

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 59 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Yet even as autism remains one of the most prevalent disorders in our society, the amount of misinformation surrounding it is shocking.

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we’ve taken a closer look at five of the most common myths you’ll hear about autism as well as five of the most important facts you can share with friends and family.

Myth: Autism is Caused by One Thing

Fact: There are likely many causes of autism spectrum disorder. The CDC highlights environmental, biological, and genetic factors when discussing risk factors. A few of these risk factors include:

Even with those risk factors in mind, it’s important to remember that autism affects all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. So if you’re concerned about your child, talk to your doctor.

Myth: Autism is a Mental or Intellectual Disability

Fact: Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects brain development from an early age. Many people with autism have high IQs and excel in a variety of subjects in school.

Myth: Autism is Caused by Vaccines

Fact: In 1998, a medical study was published that claimed there was a link between children who had developed autism and early-age immunizations. The study was later retracted, and since then, the safety of vaccines has been studied extensively by the CDC, the Institute of Medicine, and countless other medical organizations with no evidence to suggest that immunization influences a child’s risk level for developing autism spectrum disorder.

Myth: Autism Affects Everyone the Same Way

Fact: It’s called “autism spectrum disorder” because there are several subtypes of autism that affect people in unique ways. No two people who have autism experience it the same way, and each person has his or her own distinct set of challenges and abilities.

Myth: There is a cure for Autism or You Can Grow Out of It

Fact: While there is currently no cure for autism spectrum disorders, behavioral treatment can help reduce the severity of symptoms and help individuals develop essential skills for everyday life.

Want to get involved in spreading awareness about autism this month? Visit AutismSpeaks.org or Autism-Society.org to learn more.

Read More  

3 Reasons Why We’re Raising Awareness for Minority Health Month

Minority Health Month 2019 Photo

We’re proud to support Minority Health Month this April as we shine a light on the importance of equal and accessible health care in Southern Maryland. Here are three reasons why this month means so much to us and those who count on us.

Some Diseases Affect People Disproportionately

While diseases such as cancer or the flu affect everyone regardless of who they are, there are certain diseases and ailments that affect a disproportionate number of minority groups in America.

Sickle cell disease is one such disease that affects minorities in America, especially among black people and African-Americans. African-Americans and Latino-Americans are also at higher risk for developing diabetes than other groups, too.

While there are numerous reasons why these groups are at greater risk for developing these diseases, more than anything, these facts serve as stark reminders that more work needs to be done to ensure that every member of the population is given the same chance to live a long, healthy life.

Health Disparities Can Be Caused by Multiple Factors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines health disparities as “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health.” Ethnicity, race, gender, disability status, and socioeconomic factors can all play a role in this, and it’s important for communities to step up to help everyone live healthier.

Health disparities can come from:

  • Poverty
  • Environmental Threats
  • Poor Access to Health Care
  • Educational Differences

You can learn more about the various health differences that exist among the American population by visiting the official website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

Health Fairness is Important

At University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, we believe that no one should be put at a disadvantage in the health system, regardless of race, ethnicity, social status, age, or gender. By valuing health fairness, we value all people equally, and we work to ensure that every person in our community always has access to high-quality health care.

Read More  

Add Your Loved One’s Name to the Honor Roll of Women Before the May Deadline

CRMC Honor Roll of Women Photo

Whether you’re a family member who’s looking to recognize your mother, a husband memorializing your beloved wife, or a grandparent who’s celebrating the arrival of a new granddaughter, the Honor Roll of Women is the ideal opportunity to honor the special woman in your life.

Since 2009, the Honor Roll of Women has recognized the most important women in the lives of friends, families, and neighbors. Each name added to the Honor Roll is commemorated on the donor recognition located in the hospital’s atrium lobby.

Charitable contributions of just $1,000 to the CRMC Foundation support the Honor Roll of Women at UM Charles Regional Medical Center and ensure your loved one’s name will be added to the recognition wall. These generous gifts are essential to the hospital and enable us to meet the needs of every patient who seeks medical treatment in our region.

The Honor Roll of Women committee is already busy planning the reception to recognize the honorees whose names will be added to the list this year. Honorees receive a special card notifying them of the gift, and all donors and honorees are invited to celebrate the unveiling of the new class in late June. May 15 is the deadline to have the name of the special woman in your life included in this program.

Making Your Gift

For more information about how to make an Honor Roll gift for your loved one, email foundation@crmcfoundation.org or call (301) 609-4132 today.

Read More  

What’s the Scoop on Getting Your Vegetables and Fruits? Why It’s Important to Add Color to Your Plate.

Photo

Some of our earliest memories of food come from those older and wiser than us demanding that we eat our broccoli or grab something from the fruit bowl.

As we get older, it’s easy to forget these good habits. After all, why exactly do we need to eat our fruits and vegetables? Our registered dietitian nutritionist, Jamilah Bugayong, filled us in on some of the top reasons why we should keep filling up our plates.

Eating a Diet Rich in Fruits and Vegetables Reduces Your Chance of Chronic Disease

Several studies have shown that a diet with more representation from these healthy food groups can lead to fewer cardiovascular problems over the course of life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even lists a healthy diet as one of the best ways to defend against heart disease.

Some Vegetables and Fruits Are High in Fiber, Meaning They Can Help Prevent Type II Diabetes

“High-fiber foods are very important for a healthy lifestyle,” Bugayong said. “They not only help prevent and manage type II diabetes, but they also are some of your best defenses against obesity and even cancer.”

Fruits and Vegetables Tend to Have Fewer Calories Per Cup Than Other Foods

Crafting a lower-calorie diet plan can be challenging.

“Many people assume that a healthier diet always means eating less,” Bugayong said. “It’s often possible to satisfy all of your cravings with healthier alternatives.”

And, if you’re someone who could become pregnant:

Eating More Fruits and Vegetables Can Lead to a Healthier Pregnancy

Many fruits and vegetables contain folate (folic acid), which helps the body form red blood cells. Women who could become pregnant should pay attention to the amount of folate they take in, to help reduce the chance of several birth defects.

For more information, check out these articles on the importance of fruits and vegetables from the United States Department of Agriculture. Looking for more help creating a more nutrient-rich diet plan that works for you? Jamilah Bugayong is now taking appointments. Call 301-609-5044 or visit us online to find out more.

Read More  

Shining a Light on the Epidemic of Traumatic Brain Injuries During Brain Injury Awareness Month

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Did you know that millions of Americans are hospitalized and treated for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) every year? It’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls TBI “a serious health problem in the United States.”

You might know a fair amount about TBIs, including concussions, thanks to the awareness spread about such issues in the NFL and other professional sports leagues, but the problem goes well beyond athletes. And that’s why we’re joining the health community this month to shine a light on TBI in America.

Who’s Affected by Traumatic Brain Injuries?

TBI doesn’t discriminate and is a major cause of death and disability in our country, especially among adolescents and children. In fact, TBIs contribute to about 30% of all injury deaths, or about 50,000 deaths, per year, according to the latest data from the CDC.

A TBI is caused by a blow, bump, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. And while not all impacts to the head result in TBI, the severity of these injuries can range from mild to severe. These are some of the leading causes of TBI:

  • Falls
  • Sports/Recreation Injuries
  • Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Abusive Head Trauma (Shaken Baby Syndrome)
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Workplace Injuries
  • Assaults and Gunshot Wounds

Military action is also a leading cause of TBIs — affecting a large number of America’s servicemen and servicewomen. According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, there have been nearly 383,000 of these injuries diagnosed among service members in the past 18 years. And because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have increased the number of veterans with TBI, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) now mandates TBI screenings for all veterans getting care from the VA.

Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury

Everyone who has TBI experiences it a little bit differently, so the symptoms of TBI can vary greatly from person to person. Only a health care provider can diagnose TBI accurately, and the symptoms outlined below do not automatically mean a person has a TBI, so see a doctor if you or someone you know have any questions or are in need of diagnosis.

Some immediate signs of TBI include:

  • Being Dazed and Confused
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • No Memory of the Injury

In addition, the following symptoms may occur well after the TBI has occurred:

  • Persistent Pain in the Neck or a Headache
  • Light and Noise Sensitivity
  • Loss of Balance
  • Loss of Sense of Smell and Taste
  • Fatigue or Lack of Energy
  • Slurred Speech
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Nausea

The Danger of Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (Concussions)

Concussions are the most common form of TBI. But even though they are often considered the most mild form, these TBIs can still be especially damaging to the brain.

Because people who sustain a concussion don’t necessarily have a visible injury, pass out immediately, or show signs of injury right away, many don’t seek medical attention until well after a TBI has occurred. With that in mind, it’s important to monitor someone who you think may have a concussion and look for the symptoms of TBI. If any of the signs appear, even well after the fact, you should take him or her to the ER as soon as possible.

How Traumatic Brain Injuries Affect People

Brain injuries affect people in complex ways, and the effects a TBI can have on someone’s life can be devastating.

Depending on the severity, adults who’ve experienced a TBI may have difficulty re-adjusting to life at home, returning to work, managing their overall health, or even maintaining relationships. TBI is an especially unique condition because it affects everyone, not just the person who was injured.

For children, TBI can cause several physical, cognitive, and emotional impairments that impact their development. These can result in delays in education or financial stress for the affected family.

Brain Injury Support Groups in Southern Maryland

At UM Charles Regional Medical Center, we strive to take an active role in the management of and recovery from TBIs.

We regularly host free support group meetings here at the hospital for members of the community who’ve been affected by a brain injury or stroke as well as their family members. At these meetings, our team shares special educational materials, hosts question-and-answer sessions, and often welcomes guest speakers.

If you or a loved one has been affected by a TBI or stroke, we invite you to call (301) 609-4890 to learn more today. And if you know anyone who would benefit from attending one of these meetings, we hope you’ll share our event page with them on Facebook.

Read More  

High School Sports Physicals for Spring and Wellness for Life

Spring Sports Physicals Photo

Don’t save those doctor’s appointments for when there’s something already wrong.

Sure, a great primary care provider can help you get better. But our first goal is keeping you in your best health at all times and stopping health issues before they start.

UM Community Medical Group – Primary Care is a great team to have on your side, whether you’re a high school athlete or anyone looking to live their healthiest life.

Dr. Lorenzo Childress, III, along with Nurse Practitioner Kelli Goldsborough and the talented team of medical professionals are ready to help you be your best.

Now Scheduling High School Sports Physicals

Spring sports will be starting before you know it.

Lacrosse, baseball, softball, tennis or track & field. No matter what sport your student will be playing, they’ll need a sports physical from a licensed physician if they want to be ready to compete when practices start.

All that requires is a quick visit with our Primary Care team. We’ll ensure your athlete is healthy enough to compete at the top of their game.

Call 301-609-5044 to schedule your visit today.

Wellness is a Lifelong Pursuit

You don’t have to be a budding sports star to want to be at the top of your game.

No matter how old you are, achieving and maintaining your best health is an important goal. Do it for yourself. Do it for the ones who count on you.

Regular visits to a primary care physician can help you live well, live healthier and live longer.  Through quality, compassionate primary care, we’ll put you on the path to a lifetime of good health — and give you the freedom to live the life you want.

What can you expect from your primary care team? We welcome adult patients for preventive care and checkups, management of ongoing health issues, diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses, disease prevention, patient education and more.

It all starts with making that first appointment. Schedule yours today. We’re open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, plus we’re now open until 7 p.m. every Wednesday to make it even more convenient for you. Give us a call at 301-609-5044.

Read More  

Want To Boost Your Immunity? Here Are 5 Things You Can Do Right Now.

Boost Your Immunity

Did you know that, since 1982, peak flu activity has been observed in February more than any other month? That’s right, even though we’ve made it through what most people consider flu season, we’re actually in the heart of it right now.

So how can you protect yourself from the flu and those pesky colds that seem to be going around? It starts with a strong immune system. But you don’t need to turn to those “natural” remedies that claim they have immunity-boosting characteristics to strengthen your defenses. Here are five simple ways to do it yourself.

Roll up Your Sleeve, Get a Flu Shot

Let’s set the record straight, getting the flu shot is not a foolproof method of preventing the flu; however, the benefits of the flu vaccine are well-documented and wide-ranging.

Dr. Lorenzo Childress, a primary care physician with UM Community Medical Group – Primary Care in La Plata, generally recommends vaccination for people over six months of age if they’re medically able to do so.

Get Moving

People who work out regularly lower their risk of catching a cold. Many of them also enjoy a wide array of other health benefits, including a better mood, better sleeping habits, an overall energy boost, and more.

30 minutes of moderately intense activity, such as brisk walking, a few times a week is all it takes. Of course, consult with your primary care doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep deprivation is a big problem in the United States. To go along with the other emotional and physical health risks associated with not getting enough sleep, people who get fewer than seven hours of sleep are three times likelier to catch a cold than those who sleep at least eight hours.

Stop (or Never Start) Smoking

Smoke from cigarettes and other tobacco products damages the lining of nasal passages, which act as the first line of defense for your body against viruses and bacteria. Smoking also suppresses the immune system overall, making it harder for you to fend off colds and the flu this time of year.

If you’re a smoker and need help quitting, visit SmokeFree.gov for some great resources for how to reach your goal.

Scrub, Scrub

Washing your hands frequently during flu season is an easy way to reduce the spread of a cold or  flu at home and in your community. Don’t worry about whether you’re using antibacterial soap or not — there’s little difference in the effectiveness as long as you wash your hands following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read More  

Financial Planning Resources and Events You Should Know About

Financial Planning Blog | Piggy Bank Image

Thinking more about retirement or estate planning? The CRMC Foundation is proud to offer a variety of online and in-person resources to help members of our community better understand and prepare for retirement. Here are three resources you can explore:

CRMC Foundation Gift Planning  Website

No matter what step you are on with your financial planning journey, CRMCFoundationLegacy.org is a great place to start. As the official planned giving site of the hospital’s foundation, this is where you’ll find countless resources to help you better understand estate planning options.

The site is filled with timely financial articles in the News section. In addition, you can find helpful tools such as planned giving calculators and informative content on topics such as creating a will or living trust. If you need any guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to the CRMC Foundation.

If you’re ready to take the next step in planning your estate, request the CRMC Foundation’s free estate planning guide here. We also invite you to sign up for the free e-newsletter to receive the latest news and updates directly to your inbox.

Event: Retirement Through the Ages

Wednesday, February 13 | 5-7pm | Charles Regional Medical Center

40 years ago, retirement was a joint venture between government social security benefits, an employer’s pension plan and the savings of the worker. Today, the success of your retirement dreams is squarely on your shoulders.

Although the end goal of retirement may be the same regardless of your current age, the path changes along the journey towards that goal of retirement. And if you’re not sure what that journey looks like for you, join financial advisors Joyce Cool and Rob Ramos here at the hospital to get a better understanding of what’s ahead — from your very first paycheck to the last paycheck you receive.

This seminar is free and open to the public. RSVPs are preferred. Click here to learn more and to RSVP now.

Event: Estate Planning — What You Don’t Know Can Cost You!

Wednesday, June 12 | 5-7pm | Charles Regional Medical Center

Everyone wants to leave a legacy of positive impact for their family and in their community, but have you considered how estate planning fits into that legacy?

Join Attorney Robert M. Burke to learn more about the finer details of passing down wealth. He’ll go beyond just the tax implications and cover such topics as using trusts to protect assets and how giving to loved ones or charity can be an important part of passing along accumulated wealth.

This seminar is also free and open to the public. RSVPs are preferred and can be made by visiting the official event page on our website.

As always, stay tuned to our Facebook page and our event calendar on our website for the latest information about these events, resources, and future updates from the CRMC Foundation.

Read More  

5 Important Reasons to Focus on Heart Health This Month

American Heart Month 2019

It’s always a good time to think about heart health, but American Heart Month is the ideal time to remind yourself and your family, friends, and community about the importance of living a heart-healthy life. Here’s why:

Heart Disease Can Happen at Any Age

Contrary to popular belief, heart disease is not exclusive to older adults. That’s because many of the risk factors that contribute to heart disease are now being found among younger Americans more often than ever before.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking. And with rising obesity and high-blood-pressure rates among those between the ages of 35 and 64, heart disease is something that everyone — not just older Americans — should be thinking about.

Heart Disease is the Leading Cause of Death in America

Perhaps the most sobering statistic about heart disease for Americans is this: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. In fact, about 1 out of every 4 deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease — that’s roughly 610,000 people every year.

Heart health isn’t just a problem that’s specific to America, however. Around the world, nearly 18 million lives are claimed due to cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, every year. And that number is expected to rise to 23.6 million within the next decade.

Every 40 Seconds, Someone in America Has a Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when the heart doesn’t receive enough blood flow. And in America, someone has a heart attack, on average, every 40 seconds.

Nearly half of all sudden cardiac deaths occur outside of a hospital, which means that it’s important for everyone to know the warning signs of heart attack. The National Heart Attack Alert Program highlights these as the major signs:

    • Chest Pain or Discomfort — Usually discomfort on the left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
    • Discomfort in Other Areas of the Upper Body — Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
    • Shortness of Breath — Can occur before or in conjunction with chest discomfort
    • Cold Sweat, Nausea, or Light-Headedness

If you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Remember, the longer you wait, the more damage may be done to the heart.

High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol Levels, and Diabetes Can Increase Your Risk

Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol are major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 U.S. adults already have high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, and high blood pressure diagnoses among young people are on the rise as well.

Your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are mostly defined by lifestyle choices, but there are some other factors, such as family history, age, race, or sex that are out of your control. In addition, diabetes has also been tied to an increased risk for heart disease.

You’re in Control of Your Lifestyle

The most important thing you and your family can take away from American Heart Month is that much of your risk for heart disease is in your control. Following healthy eating habits, living a physically active life, not smoking, checking your blood pressure regularly, and controlling stress levels are essential to limiting your risk for developing cardiovascular diseases.

If you have any questions about your individual level of risk for cardiovascular disease or want to learn more about how to manage your blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes, be sure to talk to your primary care provider. In addition, we hope you’ll get involved by sharing this blog post or simply using the hashtag #HeartMonth throughout the month of February to help raise awareness for cardiovascular disease in your community!

Read More