Monday, February 22, 2016

What is High Blood Pressure?

Hypertension is so common that almost everybody is affected at some point.

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, means the pressure in your arteries is higher than it should be.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If this pressure remains consistently high, it can cause many complications in the body. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to health problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and more.

What Is Considered High Blood Pressure?

If your doctor consistently reads your blood pressure as 140/90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or higher, you will most likely be diagnosed with high blood pressure.

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Prevalence Hypertension is a very common condition, in both developing countries and industrialized nations. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, more than 76 million Americans over age 20 — or 1 in 3 adults — have high blood pressure.

Risk Factors

The following can increase your chances for developing high blood pressure:
Older age: The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age.
High blood pressure is more common in men who are 45 years of age and older, while women are more likely to develop the condition after age 65.
Race: High blood pressure is more common in African-American adults than in Caucasian or Hispanic-American adults.
African-Americans tend to develop hypertension earlier in life and often experience more severe cases that lead to serious complications, such as stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.
Family history: Having a family history of high blood pressure can also increase your risk, as the condition tends to run in families.
Being overweight: The more you weigh, the more blood you need to supply oxygen and nutrients to your tissues.
As the volume of blood circulated through your blood vessels increases, so does the pressure on your artery walls. Obesity, especially abdominal obesity — also increases stiffness in arteries, which increases blood pressure.
Sedentary lifestyle: Being inactive is often linked to factors that can increase your heart rate, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
And the higher your heart rate is, the harder your heart has to work.
Tobacco use: When you smoke or chew tobacco, your blood pressure rises temporarily.
Moreover, chemicals in tobacco can damage the lining of your artery walls, which can cause your arteries to narrow, increasing your blood pressure.
Being exposed to secondhand smoke also can increase your blood pressure.
Dietary choices: What you choose to eat (and not to eat) can increase your risk for hypertension, including the following:
  • Too much salt (sodium) can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.
  • Since potassium helps balance the amount of sodium in your cells, not getting enough potassium can lead to too much sodium in your blood.
  • While studies are limited, vitamin D may affect an enzyme produced by your kidneys that affects your blood pressure, so having too little could be harmful.
Alcohol consumption: Drinking more than two drinks a day for men and more than one drink a day for women may affect your blood pressure.
Stress: Being under intense stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure.
Moreover, if you try to cope with stress by overeating, using tobacco, or drinking alcohol, all these can contribute to your high blood pressure.
Chronic conditions: Having kidney disease, sleep apnea, or diabetes can affect blood pressure.
Pregnancy: Being pregnant can cause an increase in blood pressure.
Birth control: Women who take birth control pills are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure.

Children and High Blood Pressure

While most common in adults, hypertension is becoming more common in children and teens. Kidney or heart problems can cause high blood pressure in kids, but so can lifestyle habits, such as poor diet, obesity, and not exercising. Children who are African-American and Mexican-American are more likely to have high blood pressure than Caucasian children.
Moreover, boys are at higher risk than girls.


If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to the following:

By Cathy Cassata,  Medically Reviewed by Sanjai Sinha, MD

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Dealing With a Friend's Death

Today we got a phone call that we never want to get. The mother of a young lady who works for At Home Care called to say that her daughter died the night before. What?!?!?!? A million thoughts came to mind. How could this happen? She was bright and vibrant, young and living her life. We were all shocked to say the least. We have clients that pass away. Not that it's okay. But we (staff and family) understand that although it is not desired, it is expected given the condition of their health.

This phone call totally caught us by surprise and it is the first time that we have faced this in our company's short life. Each of the staff members began to recall personal moments that we experienced with her. Ironically, several of us talked with her the same day she died. One staff member saw her and that staff member wasn't even at work. They just ran into each other at the store.

She was a great asset to At Home Care and we will miss her. Now we have to go on with life. But how? Below is an article from WikiHow that gives some good tips on how to deal with the death of a friend.

-Rest in Peace Antwanette.

How to Deal With a Friend's Death's-Death
Losing a friend is never going to be easy. Keeping your own sense of calm and maintaining your friend's memory are important elements of the grieving process. Accept that this is going to be a very hard time in your life but be reassured by the reality that you will get through this and that the best way to honor your friend is to retain his or her memory always alive in your heart.

  1. Think of the good times. Recall fond memories of things you've shared together and remember those. Do not play over the tragedy that took his or her life.
  2. Write poetry, listen to music you like, spend some time alone to reflect. Make it a point to replay the funny or even goofy moments you both shared. Doing things that remind you of your friend will help you attach positive feelings to thoughts of your friend, even if you cry the entire time you're doing it at first.
  3. Accept help that others might give you. Lean on family and friends.
  4. Write a eulogy for your friend and read it at the funeral. Visit the grave. Lean on faith. If you believe in God, then pray for your friend, and for yourself and his or her other friends and family.
  5. Allow yourself to feel sad. Don't let anyone tell you how long you should feel sad, or how sad you should feel. The loss of a friend affects different people in different ways, but it is painful no matter what. Do remember that it is pain that must simply be endured, like a broken arm - there are things you can do to alleviate it for a little while, but it will eventually hurt again until it fully heals. Believe it or not, as painful as this loss is, it will fully heal in time.
  6. Talk to your friend. This might sound weird, but it'll help. Tell your friend how you feel, that you miss him or her; talk over things that are happening in your life, and how different things are since your friend can't be with you. Tell your friend that you take him or her with you wherever you go, that he or she is always in your heart. Go for grief counseling or pick up some books on grief and how to handle the pain you feel.
  7. Get enough sleep - or at least rest. Often, soon after the death of a loved one, we are plagued by bad dreams, or sad ones, and sleep seems scary and impossible. Lie down in a darkened room, and if you find it hard to sleep, at least put on some soothing music, or let the TV play softly in the background. The music or words from the television can help direct your dream state a little, keeping you from re-cycling your grief through your dreams. Do know, though, that our subconscious mind processes situations and helps us deal with things, so don't avoid your dreams, though some may make you wake up sad.
  8. Resume your place in the world. Once you feel better, go out with your friends and do things you like to take your mind off the pain. Distracting your thoughts for a while will not make you forget your friend forever. Dwelling on your own pain doesn't honor your friend's memory - having a big, bold life, and remembering your friend with love and affection as you do is what your friend would want you to do.
  9. Make a scrapbook of your friend's life. Include photos of him or her from when he or she was young through to older age. Include fond memories in this scrapbook - write captions or remembered stories next to the pictures. Look at it when you are feeling down, and share it with other friends.
  10. Do something cool in your friend's honor. If your friend liked to ride his or her bike, find out when the next MS ride is, and ride in your friend's honor. Or if he or she battled cancer, check with the Cancer Society and do a Walk For the Cure or something similar. Donate any funds you raise in your friend's name. This gives great honor to your friend's memory, and does something positive in the world at the same time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What are HIV and AIDS?

Article re-posted from

What is HIV?

HIV is a virus that gradually attacks the immune system, which is our body’s natural defence against illness. If a person becomes infected with HIV, they will find it harder to fight off infections and diseases. The virus destroys a type of white blood cell called a T-helper cell and makes copies of itself inside them. T-helper cells are also referred to as CD4 cells.1
There are many different strains of HIV – someone who is infected may carry various different strains in their body. These are classified into types, with lots of groups and subtypes. The two main types are:
  • HIV-1: the most common type found worldwide
  • HIV-2: this is found mainly in Western Africa, with some cases in India and Europe.

Basic facts about HIV

  • HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.
  • If left untreated, it can take around 10 to 15 years for AIDS to develop, which is when HIV has severely damaged the immune system.
  • With early diagnosis and effective antiretroviral treatment, people with HIV can live a normal, healthy life.
  • HIV is found in the following body fluids of an infected person: semen, blood, vaginal and anal fluids and breast milk.
  • HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, saliva or urine.
  • According to UK statistics, the most common way for someone to become infected with HIV is by having anal or vaginal sex without a condom.2
  • You can also risk infection by using infected needles, syringes or other drug-taking equipment (blood transmission), or from mother-to-child during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.3

What is AIDS?

AIDS is a syndrome caused by the HIV virus.4 It is when a person’s immune system is too weak to fight off many infections, and develops when the HIV infection is very advanced. This is the last stage of HIV infection where the body can no longer defend itself and may develop various diseases, infections and if left untreated, death.
There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS. However, with the right treatment and support, people can live long and healthy lives with HIV. To do this, it is especially important to take treatment correctly and deal with any possible side-effects.

Basic facts about AIDS

  • AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
  • AIDS is also referred to as advanced HIV infection or late-stage HIV.
  • Someone with AIDS may develop a wide range of other health conditions including: pneumonia, thrush, fungal infections, TB, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus. 
  • There is also an increased risk of developing other life-limiting conditions, including cancer and brain illnesses. 
  • CD4 count refers to the number of T-helper cells in a cubic millilitre of blood. When a person’s CD4 count drops below 200 cells per millilitre of blood, they are said to have AIDS.5
- See more at:

Holiday Stress Busters

Appropriately enough, December is National. Stress-Free Holidays Month. Here are some helpful hints to reduce stress during what should be a fun and relaxing time.

  • Recognize the signs of stress, such as irritability and anxiety. Avoid these by putting yourself in control of things instead of just letting them happen.
  • Allow yourself to say “No”. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do during this busy month. Don't feel obligated to attend every holiday party or make 1,000 cookies from scratch for your church group.
  • Watch your diet. It's very easy during this time to overindulge in holiday treats. Sugar overload will make you sluggish, and the stimulating effect of caffeine may make you overanxious.
  • Exercise. Not only will it combat those extra calories you're consuming, it will also relieve tension and provide relaxation.   

Friday, October 2, 2015

Flu Season is Here

Flu season is here and now is the time to make sure members of your congregation are protected from flu and the serious complications that can accompany it.

Last flu season over 54,000 Missourian’s tested positive for the flu.  Each flu season is different, which can affect how well the flu vaccine works.  However, studies have shown that annual flu vaccination can decrease hospitalizations and complications from the flu.  Annual flu vaccination is important especially for people at higher risk of complications from the flu.  Individuals at high risk of complications of from the flu include:
·         Children under five years of age;
·         Pregnant women;
·         Individuals 65 years of age and older;
·         American Indians and Alaskan Natives;
·         Individuals who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities;
·         Individuals who live with or care for those at higher risk for complications from flu; and
·         Individuals with certain chronic medical conditions who are at a higher risk for developing flu related complications.

Please talk with members of your congregation about getting the vaccine now.  By getting the flu vaccine now, individuals are not only protecting themselves from the flu, but are less likely to spread the virus to family members, co-workers and others. 

Please consider printing and providing the attached as a bulletin insert to give to your members or including the information in publications.  This fact sheet and other resources developed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services are available to you at no cost and can be ordered at or by calling 573.751.6124

Missouri Immunization News
Bureau of Immunizations
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
930 Wildwood Drive, PO Box 570
Jefferson City, MO  65102-0570
Phone: 573-751-6124

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Be Prepared

We at At Home Care strive to always be proactive rather than reactive. We stress to each of our clients and attendants how important it is to be ready for an emergency. If you’re as ready for an emergency as you can be, you will be able to handle the situation much better and your outcome will be a lot more positive.

When you mention the word “emergency”, most of the time we think of weather related disasters. But emergencies can include much more. A fire in your home is an emergency. But a fire next door that can spread to your home is also an emergency. An auto accident is an emergency. But if you’re stuck in traffic as a result of someone else’s auto accident on a day when it is literally freezing outside, that is an emergency too. What if all heck has broken out in your neighborhood and it’s not safe to leave your home or you have to leave quickly? That is definitely an emergency that St. Louis knows about all too well.

September is Emergency Preparedness Month and it is only fitting to talk about preparing an emergency/ disaster kit. You definitely should have a kit ready in your home. Your car is another great place and if you don’t have one at work, one day, you may wish you did.

Here’s a list of items that you should have in your kit:

Home and Work
·    Water- 1 gallon per person for at least 3 days
·    Food- At least a 3 day supply of non-perishable food. Don’t forget the manual can opener. And definitely don’t for the formula for the baby.
·    Battery powered radio
·    Flashlight with extra batteries
·    First aid kit
·    Whistle to signal for help
·    Moist towelettes and garbage bags for sanitation
·    Solar charger for your cell phone
·    Prescription medications for at least 3 days
·    Cash
·    Pet food and water for your pet
·    Important papers like insurance, banking info and identification in a waterproof container
·    A blanket or sleeping bag for each household member
·    A complete change of clothing. Consider how cold it can get in your area
·    Matches in a waterproof container
·    Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
·    Paper and pencil/ pen
·    Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

·    Jumper Cables
·    Flashlight with extra batteries
·    Fist aid kit and enough prescription medications for a day
·    Non perishable food items
·    Water
·    AM/FM radio so you can hear traffic reports
·    Cat litter or sand for tire traction and a shovel for if you get stuck in snow
·    Warm clothes, gloves, hat, boots and jacket
·    Blankets
·    Ice scrapper
·    Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child

Make sure each member of your household or work place knows what is in the kit and where the kit is. We hope you NEVER have to use the kit. But if you do, you’ll be glad you took the time to be prepared.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Speak Up! Speak Out!

Events in life sometimes cause change in your ability to perform certain tasks. Where it normally would have taken you only 15 minutes to wash your dishes, may now take you an hour. Perhaps it’s because you can’t stand as long, so you take breaks. Or you just don’t move as fast. Or maybe it’s because arthritis prevents you from grasping. Or maybe you find yourself not just washing the dishes but also cleaning broken glass because you continually drop and break dishes.

Are you starting to notice that you’re not as efficient as you once where in other areas of life. It’s okay and it’s actually good that you recognize the change. The fact that you recognize the change means that you can get help before it’s too late. You may be saying “too late for what??? I’m not going to get arrested for letting my laundry pile up. There are no citations for a dirty bathroom. Nobody cares if my dishes pile up.” But we do.

We, at At Home Care recognize when a situation is becoming a problem. Dirty dishes can lead to bacteria growth, which leads to disease and infection. If you don’t have clean clothes to wear, you might not go out; which causes you to feel alienated which can lead to loneliness and depression.  

Don’t keep it to yourself. Don’t let pride prevent you from getting the help you need so you can continue to be independent. Of course At Home Care is concerned with keeping up the care of your home so you can safely remain at home. But this principle applies to other areas of life too; such as financing education, improving a sporting skill or simply staying on schedule.

Once you realize that you have a deficiency in any area that you can not correct on your own, speak up and speak out. Let someone know so you can be helped.