Dynamic DuosFebruary 2024
Black-Owned Businesses Bring Value and Vitality to Southwest LouisianaFebruary 2024
One person dies every 33 seconds from cardiovascular disease in the United States. That’s 1 in every 5 deaths. And nearly half of all American adults have at least one major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. From heart attacks and strokes to high blood pressure, the threat of cardiovascular disease touches almost every family in our country. As heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, we applaud (posthumously) President Lyndon B. Johnson, who issued the first proclamation declaring February American Heart Month in 1964. This designation prompts us to give our tickers some consideration. The articles you’ll find in this special section provide information and tips on how you can best take care of your heart.
CHRISTUS Ochsner SWLA Foundation Announces Children’s Miracle Network Champions
by Tori Hebert
For 41 years, Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals have raised over $8.5 billion dollars to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. There are 170 member hospitals in the organization, including the CHRISTUS Ochsner Hospital System in Southwest Louisiana.
“In 1988, CHRISTUS Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital was chosen to be the CNM hospital in SWLA,” explains Cheyanna Glyenn, Children’s Miracle Network director and annual event manager with the Foundation. “Today, the CHRISTUS Ochsner SWLA Foundation oversees the local philanthropic efforts for CMN that supports advanced pediatric surgical and treatment equipment to both St. Patrick and Lake Area Hospital locations.”
Every dollar raised through the Foundation for CMN stays in SWLA to create local miracles for children like Jacilynn Courville, the Foundation’s 2023-2024 National CMN Champion.
Jacilynn underwent surgery to repair a stomach condition called pyloric stenosis at just one month old. After serious complications during the surgery at a non-local hospital, she went into septic shock, followed by seizures that led to a stroke. When she returned home to SWLA, Jacilynn began specialized therapy with the CHRISTUS Ochsner Pediatric Therapy Kids Team.
Now age four, Jacilynn can speak a few words, eat soft foods on her own, roll over, prop herself up on her elbows and interact with her toys.
“Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Jacilynn’s specialized therapy team has the equipment they need to help her strengthen her muscles, learn new skills and thrive,” says Glyenn.
CMN funds are also used for special services and grants for custom family needs. The Polito family received a wheelchair ramp at their home for Gia, the 2024 local CMN Champion.
“Gia was diagnosed with spina bifida myelomeningocele around 29 weeks in utero,” says Deveni Polito, Gia’s mother. “Gia had her first spinal cord surgery within 36 hours of her birth.”
Gia received many tests, evaluations and physical therapy while in the NICU at Texas Children’s Hospital, also a CMN hospital. Once she and her family returned home, she began long-term physical therapy workouts. Today, Gia uses a wheelchair for long distances to keep up with her peers, and a walker once she arrives to her location. She continues to work hard with her physical therapist both in and outside of school to help her be successful in any environment.
“An investment in the CMN is an investment for all children in Southwest Louisiana like Jacilynn and Gia to have access to critical life-saving treatments, healthcare services, innovative research and medical equipment,” Glyenn says.
To become a Miracle Maker or for information on hosting a CMN fundraiser, visit www. christusochsnerswlafoundation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Menopause and Estrogen can Affect Heart Health
When researchers in the Netherlands recently compiled data from 32 studies involving more than 300,000 women, they reached a disturbing conclusion.
Women who experience early menopause – before the age of 45 – face an increased risk for heart disease and premature death.
“This is why women who go into early menopause need to pay special attention to their lifestyle choices and habits,” says Mache Seibel, M.D., a leading American expert on menopause. Those same women also should explore the possibility of taking estrogen, which in addition to its other benefits, can help reduce the risk of death from heart disease, he says.
Estrogen therapy, typically used to minimize menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, irritability, and weight gain, has been controversial. More than a decade ago, the Women’s Health Initiative advised menopausal women to stop using estrogen because of a reported increase in breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks. Since then, flaws and limitations with the WHI study have come to light, reversing some of the thinking in the medical community.
“Estrogen is safe and beneficial for the majority of women if taken in the estrogen window,” Seibel says. The “estrogen window” represents the ideal time to begin estrogen replacement. In fact, estrogen, if taken in the estrogen window, can lower the risk of death from heart disease. The window opens the moment a woman enters menopause. Exactly when it closes is more difficult to determine, Seibel says. Generally, it’s a 10-year time frame, but that can vary, and women should have ongoing discussions with their physicians, he says. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women so it’s critical that they and their doctors understand the role estrogen plays in reducing that risk, Seibel says.
A few facts women need to keep in mind:
Age is not the deciding factor.
It’s not a woman’s age but rather how many years since she went through menopause that determines whether estrogen will be protective or potentially harmful. “Unfortunately,” Seibel says, “even with the current thinking, some doctors are unaware that estrogen is beneficial in preventing heart disease or simply don’t have enough time to adequately explain this to patients.”
Women’s symptoms differ from men.
When men experience a heart attack, they often have crushing chest pain or radiating pain down the left arm, and sometimes right arm. While women can have those symptoms, Seibel says, they are more likely to feel profound fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. They may also notice neck, jaw, back or upper abdominal pain. Women who have persistent symptoms such as those should tell their doctor as soon as possible.
Overall lifestyle matters.
Regardless of whether a woman chooses to take estrogen, Seibel says, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Women who smoke should quit because smokers have two to six times the risk of heart attack as non-smokers. They also should exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, watch their weight and reduce stress.
“The important thing,” Seibel says, “is for women to educate themselves and understand that there are proactive steps they can take to remain physically and mentally healthy and thrive beyond menopause. Time spent on you isn’t lost; it’s invested!”
Mache Seibel, M.D.is a leading American expert on menopause and author of The Estrogen Window (www.EstrogenWindowBook.com).
Prevention and Management of Peripheral Artery Disease
You may be familiar with celebrating Mardi Gras by lining the streets and waiting for floats throwing candy and beads to pass. Because of the crowds of people, it can sometimes be challenging to walk down the street to meet friends and family, and the floats usually move at a slow pace.
Imagine your arteries coming from your heart like a parade route, carrying blood throughout your body. When the accumulation of cholesterol and fatty deposits known as “plaque” build up along the edges of the artery, it leaves a narrow path for blood to flow freely. It becomes difficult for blood to travel from your heart throughout your body. This can eventually, when left untreated, lead to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and coronary artery disease. This restriction in blood flow to your body’s extremities (legs, feet, arms, hands, etc.), is called Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).
While lower-extremity PAD is more common (legs and feet), upper-extremity (arms, hands, fingers) still affects about 10% of the population. The most common symptoms of lower-extremity PAD are cramping, fatigue, aching, pain or discomfort when exerting oneself more than normal, for instance, climbing stairs or walking. The pain will usually subside after resting and returns when an activity begins again. If the blockage remains for a long period of time in the peripheral arteries the color of the skin may change and total loss of blood circulation could mean having to amputate the limb in extreme cases.
Prevention, early diagnosis, and initiating treatment soon in managing this condition are key. While lifestyle changes, like increasing physical activity, healthy eating patterns, controlling cholesterol, and lowering Body Mass Index (BMI) can help improve conditions, along with medications, sometimes a cardiologist may recommend a procedure called an “angioplasty.” During this procedure a physician may inflate a small, medicated balloon into the artery to flatten the plaque along the walls of the artery. They may also insert a small mesh tube called a stent to keep the artery from narrowing again. Think of this as a barricade that’s placed to keep crowds from restricting traffic flow at a parade.
“Unfortunately, many people mistake the symptoms of PAD for something else and can go undiagnosed until the case is severe and greatly impacts one’s quality of life,” says Dr. Ahmad Awan, an interventional cardiologist with Lake Charles Memorial Health System. “The good news is that PAD is diagnosed in a simple and painless way. It’s my goal to help a patient manage PAD with lifestyle changes and medications before it gets too far.”
During American Heart Month, it’s a great time to reevaluate lifestyle choices and be aware of any risk factors that may lead to unfavorable heart conditions down the line. Risks are higher in individuals who have diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and those who smoke.
In Louisiana, Mardi Gras is just one of many celebratory seasons. When it comes to celebrating, you want to feel your best. Don’t let your health prevent you from jumping for beads at the next parade. Let this Mardi Gras season be a heart healthy “Hearti Gras.”
Sources: American Heart Association