Every night, nearly 18 million Americans will experience
unhealthy breathing patterns, starting and stopping as they sleep through the
In fact, 80 percent of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea cases
will go undiagnosed, leading to a number of physical and emotional health
Among the most common health complications that sleep apnea
can cause are extreme stress, fatigue and depression. However, it may surprise
you that, when left untreated, evidence suggests that sleep apnea and heart disease are linked, leading to high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke and
other cardiovascular problems.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is defined as interrupted or shallow breathing that can last between 10 and 20 seconds, occurring up to as many as hundreds of times a night. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea, happening when the soft tissues in the back of a person’s throat relax and block the airway to cause loud snoring throughout the night.
What are Sleep Apnea Risk Factors?
Sleep apnea affects a range of people – both children and adults. However, if you fall into one or more of the following categories, your risk for obstructive sleep apnea may be higher:
- 65 years of age or older
- Family history of sleep apnea
- Aftrican-American, Hispanic or Pacific Islander
- A smoker
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can be hard to detect because most symptoms occur at night, when a person is fast asleep. Contact your doctor if you notice that you or your partner is demonstrating loud snoring, choking or gasping for breath during sleep. Other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Morning headaches
- Memory and/or attention problems
- Frequent urination during nighttime
- Extreme daytime fatigue and sleepiness
- Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking up
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Heart Disease
Sleeping five hours or less each night significantly raises the risk of developing high blood pressure in adults. Getting enough sleep is important to your health, and might be helpful in warding off high blood pressure, which can lead to a number of other problems, including heart and kidney disease and stroke.
Sleep Apnea is a Matter of the Heart for UnityPoint Health - Des Moines
In partnership with UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and The
Iowa Clinic, the West Lakes Sleep Center is deeply rooted in Central Iowa as the area’s first
state-of-the-art sleep center. If you think
you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, or know of someone else who
might be, consider scheduling a sleep study to help
diagnose and treat your sleep disorder and avoid the harmful effects that a bad
night’s sleep can have on your health, including heart disease. For more information and to learn
if a sleep study is the right option for you, please contact us at (515) 875 –
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men
and women today. Among the most serious heart disease risk factors is high LDL
or “bad” cholesterol levels.
Though some types of cholesterol are good for your
health, LDL cholesterol is a source of the artery-clogging plaque that can lead
to life-threatening heart disease such as heart attack and stroke.
Fortunately, your cholesterol levels are a largely
controllable heart disease risk factor. If you are one of the 100 million
Americans currently living with high cholesterol (above 200 mg/DL), follow
these five tips to decrease your risk for heart problems in the future:
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight, even by as little as a few extra pounds,
can contribute to higher cholesterol levels in both men and women. With the
approval of a doctor, start out by making a goal to lose 5 to 10 percent of
your body weight. Achieving this goal
through proper diet and exercise can significantly reduce cholesterol levels
and, therefore, the risk for developing heart disease.
2. Make Healthy Food Choices
An important aspect of lowering your bad cholesterol levels and raising your good cholesterol levels is developing a healthy diet. Stay away from concentrated sources of cholesterol, such as organ meats, egg yolks and whole milk products, as well as saturated fat and trans fat. Instead, opt for a balanced diet that includes the following heart-healthy foods and nutrients:
- Healthy Fats
- Whole Grains
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
3. Aim for 30 Minutes of Daily Exercise
Exercise stimulates enzymes that help move LDL from the
blood to the liver, where the cholesterol is either converted to bile for
digestion or excreted. Thus, the more you exercise, the more LDL your
body removes. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise each day to make heart-healthy
physical activities, such as biking, running and brisk walking, a part of your
4. Quit or Don't Start Smoking
You already know that smoking leads to a number of serious
health risks, such as lung cancer and heart disease, but it may surprise you
that smoking can also have a negative effect on your cholesterol. In fact,
studies show that quitting tobacco can raise your good cholesterol by as much
as 10 percent. So, if you don’t smoke already, don’t start. If you are a
smoker, contact your doctor to find the support and resources necessary to quit.
5. Visit Your Doctor Frequently
Frequent visits with your primary care physician are
an essential part of regulating and maintaining your health over time –
especially when it comes to your cholesterol. Not only is your doctor able to
give insight into your current health, but he or she is also there to recommend
specific medications to take in order to improve your cholesterol and heart health.
Do you know what your cholesterol levels mean?
Some health experts recommend that people over the age of 20
years old should get their cholesterol levels measured at least once every five
years. Schedule an appointment with UnityPoint Health – Des Moines to receive a
complete lipidpanel for same-day results and explanation of your levels of cholesterol,
LDL AND HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. For more information and to start
working towards your heart-healthy future, please contact us today.
Maybe you’re expecting your first child and trying to find the right person to care for your baby. Or maybe you’ve just moved to Des Moines and need to find a new pediatrician for your kids. Regardless of why you’re searching for a provider for your little ones, choosing a pediatrician is a decision that requires serious thought.
Your Checklist to Finding a Pediatrician in Des Moines
Sorting through all the pediatric clinics and pediatricians in Des Moines is overwhelming, to say the least. The following are some tips to help you search for the right pediatrician for your family:
- Insurance – If you’re in a managed health care plan, your choice of participating pediatricians who provide primary care for children may be limited, so be sure to check the plan’s online list.
- Office – Let’s face it, kids don’t always get sick when it’s most convenient. Knowing when your child can receive care, such as on weekends and after hours, is huge. Equally important is the office location.
- Hospital Affiliation – Unfortunately, at some point, your child may require more care than your pediatrician’s clinic can provide. Should your child need to go to the emergency room or be hospitalized, it’s important to be comfortable with the hospital to which you are referred.
- Personality – Another important aspect of selecting a pediatrician is getting a feel for his or her personality. Good communication between a pediatrician and a parent is essential to building a good working relationship. Not to mention, your children should respond well to the pediatrician whom you choose, too.
Caring for Kids
Affiliated with Blank Children’s Hospital, our family-friendly pediatric clinic provides the best possible health care for children. Our team of Des Moines pediatricians wants your kids to get well and stay well. To learn more about the clinic or to schedule an appointment, call 515-241-8923.
Thanksgiving is a time for celebration, family gatherings, special traditions and delicious feasts. It is also a time for accidental injuries that can turn the cheerful festivities into a frightening trip to the emergency room.
Unfortunately, accidents don’t take breaks for holidays. This Thanksgiving, keep your kids safe and healthy with these tips for avoiding common holiday dangers.
1. Teach Safety
Assuming that your children know how to be safe during the
holidays is risky – especially when they are young. If you plan to have a large
Thanksgiving Day celebration, be sure to explain to your children which safety
rules to follow, including staying away from the kitchen while cooking and avoiding
candles and other fire hazards.
2. Child-Proof the Kitchen
Preparing for this year’s Thanksgiving feast will most likely require a lot of time in the kitchen, so don’t forget that hot pots and pans can raise the risk of burns and scaldings. To prevent accidents, keep pot handles turned away from the front of the stove and always keep the oven door closed. If your children want to help in the kitchen, give them a safe and simple task that does not require using knives or other sharp objects.
3. Cook Safely
Turkey is a traditional Thanksgiving dish that is likely to find its way onto your dinner table, but be mindful that it could be a source of food-born illness. As you prepare the turkey, make sure it is just as safe as it is delicious. Always handle a turkey with clean hands and utensils to avoid harmful bacteria transferring to other foods. The safest way to thaw a turkey is to place it in the refrigerator a few days before it will be cooked and served. Once it is completely thawed, cook the turkey at a temperature no lower than 325 degrees Fahrenheit and check the food thermometer frequently.
4. Avoid Choking
Thanksgiving Day favorites include treats and sweets that pose choking hazards to children under the age of four. Avoid serving popcorn, peanuts and hard candies to eliminate the risk of choking altogether. In addition to monitoring food, keep small toys and objects away from young children. A general rule of thumb to follow is that if it can fit in the mouths of babies and toddlers, it is too small to play with.
5. Clear the Table
After your family has enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal
together, remember to clear the table in a timely matter. Small children may be
tempted to pull on the table cloth, which could send sharp plates and cups
flying into the air. Additionally, children are not always able to identify the
difference between alcoholic beverages and those safe for them to drink. Be
sure to put away all alcoholic beverages that you may have consumed so that
they are out of your child’s reach.
6. Display Safe Decorations
Whether you have decorated your house with festive fall centerpieces
or plan to put up the Christmas tree, keep in mind that they should be
kid-friendly. Avoid displaying poisonous plants, sharp objects, small
ornaments, glass decorations and other objects that could be mistaken for food
or easily broken.
7. Practice Fire Safety
As the weather gets cooler, staying warm may require more
than just a blanket. Practice fire safety by using battery operated candles
instead of real candles, unplugging lights when not in use and keeping the oven
door closed at all times. If you are using a space heater, make sure it is out
of your children’s reach and away from flammable objects like curtains and
table clothes. Lastly, make sure to check that your smoke detectors are working
before the Thanksgiving fun starts.
8. Play Carefully
For many families, Thanksgiving Day will be spent outside
playing a friendly game of football. If small children will be participating,
move the fun into the backyard to avoid the street traffic. Before kicking off
the big game, remove sticks, rocks and leaves that could cause dangerous slips,
trips and falls.
9. Drive Slowly
If you will be driving this Thanksgiving, drive carefully.
There will more people on the road and kids outside playing than usual. Buckle
up, slow down and stop at all stop lights and stop signs. Families that are
staying home this year should encourage kids to play off the streets and look
both ways before crossing.
10. Be Prepared
Hopefully, this Thanksgiving will be a safe holiday for the
whole family, but if or when an unexpected accident puts someone in danger, it
is important to have an emergency plan. Blank Children’s Hospital is here to
meet the unique needs of children and families during medical emergencies. Our emergency
department is designed to provide the highest level of comprehensive care
24 hours a day – no matter what life throws your family’s way.
If your child is experiencing a medical emergency this
Thanksgiving, call 911 or visit Blank Children’s Hospital Emergency Department
for care you can count on.