Sunday, September 26, 2010

Upcoming "Lunch With Your Doctor"

"Your Breast Health"
Presented by Dr. David Nelson, OB/GYN, Millard Henry Clinic.
The luncheon will be October 20, 12-1pm at the Saint Mary's Annex, across from the Emergency Room.
Call 479.964.9355 for reservations. Admission is $5 and includes lunch and registration for door prizes

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Vintage Luncheon - Dr. James Smith

“Lunch With Your Doctor”

Understanding and Recognizing Alzheimer’s disease:
Senior Moments or Something More Serious

Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center’s Vintage Club held their final luncheon for 2008 on Wednesday, December 10. Over 95 members and guests from Pope and surrounding counties attended. James Smith, M.D., an Internal Medicine physician with Millard Henry Clinic, was the featured speaker. Dr. Smith presented information regarding the subject of “Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease”. Smith’s presentation focused on an individual’s risk factors, different warning signs and ways to help keep the mind sharp. The floor was open for questions during and after Smith’s presentation.

Occasional lapses in memory as one ages are common and are sometimes referred to by many as “Senior Moments”. One may discount the once-in-a-while occurrence of forgetting where the car is parked or the name of someone rarely seen. But, when recognizing normal people or objects becomes difficult or serious memory loss occurs, a visit to one’s doctor is recommended.

Dementia is a general term most commonly referred to as the loss of intellectual abilities or memory skills that affect daily life. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the elderly. This progressive disease destroys brain cells, which causes problems with daily activities, language skills, the ability to work, continuing hobbies or other activities, the ability to attain memories or build new ones and maintaining a normal social life.

Currently, there are nearly 5 million Americans living with the disease. Alzheimer’s is usually diagnosed in individuals 65 and older is ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Little information is known regarding this degenerative disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, most of what is known has been uncovered in the last 15 years.

Scientists do not know the cause of Alzheimer’s and so far there is no cure; however progress has been made and treatments are available to help improve the quality of life for someone living with Alzheimer’s. A worldwide research effort is underway in discovering better ways of treating the disease, delaying its onset and even preventing it from developing. Some studies have shown that exercising the mind and learning new skills will help increase brain health among seniors. Playing cards or other games or taking a class are great ways to increase memory skills and strengthen the brain.

Like everything else in the body, the brain changes as we age. Slowed thinking or occasional memory lapses are normal; however, serious memory loss, confusion or severe noticeable changes should be evaluated. These changes could be a sign of failing brain cells. “In age-appropriate memory loss, the memory will eventually come back, but with dementia, that memory is more than likely unattainable” said Dr. Smith.

There are over 100 billion nerve cells in the brain communicating and controlling every bodily function. Alzheimer’s disease halts the functioning of some cells. When communication between the different networks in the brain is interrupted, normal functions cannot be achieved. The interruption will eventually spread and cells will eventually die. Plaques and tangles are two abnormal structures found in the brain and are thought to be the cause of the damage which kills nerve cells.

Plaques build up between the nerve cells and tangles form inside the dying cell. These structures do develop as most people age, but Alzheimer’s patients tend to develop more. While their role is not completely understood, some researchers believe that these structures block communication between the cells and disrupt activity which maintains the cell.

While no single reason has been identified to cause the failure of brain cells, certain fixed and non-fixed risk factors have been determined to increase the likeliness of developing this disease.

These risk factors include:
Age – increasing age is the greatest risk factor
Family History – an immediate family member who has been diagnosed; the risk increases if more than one family member is diagnosed
Genetics – Researchers know that genes are involved; the Alzheimer’s gene has been found in the two categories of genes that play a role in determining whether or not a person could develop the disease.

Non-fixed risk factors:
Head Injury- There appears to be a strong link between a severe head injury and the development of Alzheimer’s.
Heart-head connection – Brain health is linked to heart health. High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high cholesterol damage the heart and blood vessels which supply blood to the head.
General healthy aging – An overall healthy lifestyle such as maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding tobacco, maintaining a social life and exercise may help keep the brain healthy.

Warning Signs
As people age, forgetfulness can become quite apparent and it affects each individual differently. Mild forgetfulness can be inconvenient, especially for those used to being independent, but it’s nothing to be concerned about. As stated before, exercising the mind will help keep the mind sharp as one gets older. Other ways to help maintain a sharp memory are remaining social, having a hobby, exercising and maintaining a healthy diet.

But, sometimes memory loss isn’t just getting older; it could be the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. There are no clear cut lines separating normal changes from warning signs. So, it’s always a good idea to consult with a primary care physician if normal activity or function level seems to be changing.
Here are some warning signs to watch out for:
Memory Loss – The forgetting of recently learned information is the most common early sign. A person may begin to forget more often and is unable to recall information later or may ask the same question or repeat the same story over and over.

Difficulty performing familiar tasks – The ability to perform or complete everyday tasks, such as, preparing a full meal, playing a game or making a telephone call.

Problems with language – The forgetting of simple words or the substitution of unusual ones often make a conversation or reading a letter from them hard to understand.

Disorientation to time and place – Becoming lost in familiar areas, forgetting where they live or how they might have gotten there is another sign of the Alzheimer’s disease.

Poor and decreased judgment – Giving away large sums of money, dressing inappropriately for outside temperatures or neglecting to keep proper hygiene.

Problems with abstract thinking – The inability to perform complex mental tasks.

Misplacing items – The storage or placement in odd or unusual places, for example, an iron in the freezer.

Changes in mood or behavior – Unprovoked rapid mood swings.

Changes in personality – Changes can be dramatic and one may become extremely erratic, confused, suspicious or fearful.

Loss of initiative – Changes in ambition such as sleeping long hours during the day or watching T.V. for hours.
Paying attention to possible warning signs is the first and best step to diagnosing Alzheimer’s. If someone has just one or several of the listed symptoms, consulting a physician is the next step. A more thorough examination by a medical specialist trained in the evaluation of memory disorders or a visit to a neurologist may be suggested later.

Alzheimer’s disease can come without warning and can be very hard for families to cope with. Finding a good support group or family counselor might help with the transition period after a loved one has been diagnosed. Staying healthy both mentally and physically is one of the best ways to help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Pay close attention and watch for warning signs. Vast amounts of research are being done in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, and as Smith stated, “I think the future is optimistic.” For questions regarding certain risk factors for oneself or a loved one, talk to a primary care physician.

Dr. Smith is a member of the medical staff at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center and is one of five Internal Medicine physicians with Millard Henry Clinic. Dr. Smith’s office is located at 101 Skyline Drive in Russellville. To make an appointment with Dr. Smith, please call 890-2421.
For more information about the Vintage Club or to inquire about upcoming events and luncheons, please contact the Saint Mary’s Community Relations office at 964-9355.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Upcoming "Lunch With Your Doctor"

"Happy Feet; Diabetes and Wound Care"

featuring Dr. Mark Myers of River Valley Hyperbaric and Wound Care, with special guest Pam Cook of Pam's Shoes and Pedorthics.

The luncheon will be November 18, 12-1pm at the Saint Mary's Annex, across from the Emergency Room.

To sign up, or for more information, call Saint Mary's Vintage Line at (479) 964-9355.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October's "Talk About Rx" Lunch

Today's medicines cure infectious diseases, prevent problems from chronic diseases, and alleviate pain and suffering for millions of Americans every day. But medicines can also cause harm. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adverse drug events (ADEs) cause over 700,000 emergency department visits each year. Nearly 120,000 of these patients need to be hospitalized for further treatment. This is an important patient safety problem, but many of these adverse drug events are preventable. Patients can do a number of things to help reduce the risk of harm from medicines for themselves and their family members.

Anyone who takes medicines has some risk of a harmful effect. How high that risk is depends on the individual patient's health, the particular medicines a patient is using, and how patients use their medicines. Nevertheless, national data suggest there are some key risks and risk groups:

Young Children: Children less than 5 years old are twice as likely as older children to be taken to emergency departments for adverse drug events (nearly 98,000 emergency visits each year). Most of these emergency visits are due to young children finding and eating or drinking medicines on their own, without adult supervision.

Older Adults: Older adults (65 years or older) are also twice as likely as others to come to emergency departments for adverse drug events (over 177,000 emergency visits each year). Older adults are nearly seven times more likely to be hospitalized after an emergency visit, but most of these hospitalizations are due to just a few drugs known to require careful monitoring to prevent problems. Common drugs that can require monitoring are blood thinners (e.g., warfarin), diabetes medications (e.g., insulin), seizure medications (e.g., phenytoin), and digoxin (a heart medicine).

All Adults: The death rate from unintentional prescription drug overdoses is highest among middle-aged adults (40–49 years old). In 2004, over 7,500 Americans died of unintentional overdoses of opioid (or narcotic) analgesics (pain medications such as methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone), more people than from cocaine or heroin.

To help combat preventable medication errors, Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center invites River Valley residents to this month’s “Talk about Rx” Vintage Club luncheon on Wednesday, October 28. Featured guests are pharmacists Melinda Reams and Yancy Walker with C&D Drug Store.

“A key message to consumers is that if you are taking a medicine – especially if you are taking several medicines at the same time, including prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) – you should keep a current list, including the doses and how you take each medicine; and be sure to include vitamins, dietary supplements, or herbal remedies,” said Reams. ”Sharing your updated medicine list with your physician at every medical visit, as well as providing a copy to your pharmacist, can go a long way in promoting safe and appropriate medicine use.”

Reams also noted that it is important to make a copy of your medication list for a family member or other loved one, so that it can be provided to the emergency room or hospital in the event of an emergency.

Being smart about medications means getting the necessary facts to use them correctly. That means asking questions and sharing important information about your medicine use to better ensure that you reduce risks and get the most benefit from your treatment. Have lunch with Saint Mary’s Vintage Club on Wednesday and learn more about how you can play an active role in protecting yourself from medication errors.

Through the Vintage Club program, Saint Mary’s provides River Valley seniors with health and wellness information as well as social and travel opportunities. Vintage Club membership is exclusive to people 55 and older and their spouses. “Lunch with your Doctor” is a popular Vintage seminar event at which a physician or other health care professional speaks on topics relevant to senior wellness while guests enjoy lunch. A brief question and answer session follows. Admission is $5 per guest and includes the meal and registration for door prizes.

Guests at Wednesday’s program will also receive free medical reconciliation cards. These cards are meant to be personalized with important and accurate medical information, including medical history, medications, allergies, personal emergency contacts, physician information and other vital data. They are contained in a magnetic file, which can be placed on the refrigerator door where rescue workers can easily locate medical data in the event of an emergency. Medical reconciliation cards can also be obtained, at no charge, from the Saint Mary’s switchboard, just inside the main entrance of the hospital.

Wednesday’s “Talk About Rx” presentation is scheduled to begin at noon. Reservations are required at (479) 964-9355.

Melinda Reams and Yancy Walker, Pharmacists with C&D Drug Store.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

July's "Lunch With Your Doctor" featuring Dr. Dennis Berner

Updating seniors with information about the H1N1 flu virus and heat-related illnesses, Dr. Dennis Berner spoke at a recent Saint Mary’s Vintage Club “Lunch with your Doctor” in the hospital’s annex.

Dr. Berner is an internal medicine physician with Millard-Henry Clinic in Russellville. As he spoke to the capacity crowd in attendance, he prefaced his remarks by introducing his mother, Mrs. Lois Berner of Little Rock, formerly of Russellville.

Dr. Berner then gave the latest information available on the H1N1 influenza virus pandemic.

Originally termed “swine flu,” H1N1 is actually a new virus that includes three strains: the swine flu, bird flu and the human flu virus, he said.

He added that in late winter 2008, an outbreak of the flu began in Mexico. “The governing agencies were good to identify the outbreak, and acted quickly to close down many facilities to prevent further spread of the disease,” he said. “If you saw any soccer matches on television that were broadcast from Mexico, you would see that even the soccer stadiums were empty.”

Despite Mexico’s best efforts, the virus had already spread. By June, 100 countries had reported about 94,000 cases of the viruses. “This number doesn’t reflect how many cases there actually have been, because World Health Organization (WHO) officials have stopped tracking data estimates,” he said.

Because the virus has been isolated, Dr. Berner said, a vaccine can now be produced that will offer a 75 to 85 percent protection rate among recipients. The drug is expected to be available in the fall in limited quantities. “It may be rationed by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention,), which we haven’t seen in the United States since World War II,” he said. He added that vaccines will be given first to those who are hospitalized with the disease, followed by those most at risk of contracting it.

Unlike other influenza strains that seem to affect the elderly and small children first, this virus appears first among those with chronic lung diseases, suppressed auto-immune systems, chronic heart failure and diabetes. Also at high risk are pregnant women, he said.

“It’s imperative that you get your flu shot this fall,” he added.

Moving then to heat-related illnesses, Dr. Berner spoke of the one incident where he saw a person with heat stroke.

“Heat stroke seldom occurs, but it is serious and dramatic. It is fatal 50 percent of the time,” he said. In the case he saw, in which the patient was a young Marine, the serviceman recovered only because of youth and relative good health. “If you survived it at an older age,” he said, “you would be sick for weeks.”

Heat stroke occurs when a person’s brain can no longer control the body’s cooling system. The internal body temperature rises to more than 105 degrees, which can cause brain and organ damage, and may result in coma and even death.

Besides exposure to extreme heat and humidity, two other factors can cause heat stroke.

A condition known as neuroleptic malignant syndrome can occur when strong psychotropic drugs are used. Patients develop heat stroke as they experience extremely high fever and body heat in reaction to the drugs.

Malignant hyperthermia can also cause heat stroke, although it rarely occurs today. This happens in reaction to gases used as anesthesia for surgery, and occurs in patients with a genetic predisposition to the syndrome. It is rare today because drugs are more commonly used than gases, Dr. Berner said.

Much more common than heat stroke is heat exhaustion, which is a warning sign that the body is getting overheated. With heat exhaustion, a person’s temperature can be elevated but isn’t extremely high. The skin is often pale and sweaty. Conditions such as dry mouth, headache, nausea, fatigue and dizziness can also occur.

To avoid heat exhaustion, Dr. Berner suggested wearing loose-fitting clothing and being exposed to extreme heat and humidity for only a few minutes at a time. Hydration is needed, but it isn’t necessary to drink more liquids than you need, he said. Water is best for hydration, he added, as sports drinks often contain more potassium and sodium than the body needs.

For more information about Saint Mary’s Vintage Club, or to inquire about upcoming events and luncheons, call Saint Mary’s Community Relations at 964-9355.

Monday, May 25, 2009

May's "Lunch With Your Doctor" featuring Dr. Robert Thurlby

Bone up on your Bone Health:

When you think about staying healthy, you probably think about making lifestyle changes to avoid life-threatening conditions like cancer and heart disease. Keeping your bones healthy to prevent osteoporosis is probably not at the top of your wellness list. After all, breaking a bone might strike you as painful and inconvenient, but not necessarily as dangerous.

If your thinking runs along these lines, the following facts from the National Osteoporosis Foundation might make you think again:

Fact 1: Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and the loss of bone density over time.

Fact 2: The problem with osteoporosis isn’t just that it causes broken bones. The problem is that when you’re older, breaking a bone is serious. It often starts a downward spiral of pain, disability and the loss of independence.

Fact 3: Osteoporosis is a disease you can do something about. It can be prevented, detected and treated.

First, the bad news.

The U.S. Surgeon General reports that half of all women older than 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. Up to one in four men will too. And breaking a bone when you’re older is serious. It can lead to immobility, which in turn can lead to isolation, depression and other health problems. More than 20 percent of seniors who break a hip will die within one year. Many of those who survive will need long-term nursing home care.

Now, the good news.

Thirty years ago, most people considered osteoporosis and broken bones to be a part of normal aging. That view has changed. Researchers today know a lot about how you can protect your bones throughout your life with nutrition and exercise. And although it’s never too late to start protecting your bones, the best time to begin is when you’re young.

But if you already have osteoporosis or are at risk for it, the good news is that in the last 15 years, researchers have developed effective new treatments for osteoporosis. They’re not a cure, but they can help, especially when you exercise and eat right.

Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center invites you to learn more about osteoporosis prevention and treatment with Dr. Robert Thurlby at this month’s Vintage Club “Lunch with your Doctor.” Thurlby is an internal medicine specialist with Millard Henry Clinic – Dover, and will share his knowledge and expertise on this important topic on May 27th in the Saint Mary’s annex.

Friday, March 13, 2009

AARP Safe Driving Program

Upcoming 2009 Classes

The AARP Safe Driving Program will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Annex building behind Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center. The class is available to persons 55 & over. Cost is $12 to all AARP members and $14 to non-members, payable to AARP the day of the class. Saint Mary’s will provide complimentary coffee and pastries. Lunch will be available in the cafeteria at a 25% discount for all attendees following the program. To reserve your spot, please call Saint Mary’s Community Relations at 964-9355.

Saturday, April 4
Tuesday, May 5
Tuesday, June 2
Tuesday, July 7
Tuesday, August 4
Tuesday, September 1
Saturday, October 3
Tuesday, November 3
Tuesday, December 1