Heart Disease


More than heart attacks: February is Heart Month Worldwide

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February is Heart Month worldwide. While heart attacks and cardiovascular disease prevention in particular may be what topics spring to mind this time of year, there are other types of heart disease to consider that may not be as much in the forefront of the awareness spotlight as February comes to a close.
Of course, taking the many steps—exercise, good nutrition, and regular medical care including blood pressure and heart checkups—to prevent heart disease or catch it early are very important. These are things we need to be aware of year-round, not just in February! However, there are other types of heart disease that go beyond the heart attack or cardiovascular arrest that springs to mind when we talk about heart disease.
Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are a type of heart problem that are present at birth. CHDs are not curable and may or may not be treatable with surgery or medication—some people have lifelong symptoms, need multiple surgeries or require a heart transplant; others—like myself—receive medical intervention. (In my case, I simply received a dose of medicine that prompted the hole that allows blood to bypass the unborn baby’s lungs to close as it should have). A young person is not usually the first person we think of when we hear heart disease, but 8 in 1000 babies born in the UK have a CHD [1]. 250,000 adults in the UK live with a CHD [1]. Most people with congenital heart defects should wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace identifying their CHD.
Other types of heart disease include genetic diseases, cardiomyopathy [2] (weakening of the heart muscle that makes it have to work very hard to continue to pump oxygenated blood around the body), angina (pain in the chest that may or may not precipitate a heart attack), heart failure (from a variety of causes, including heart attack, CHD, heart valve or rhythm problems—arrhythmias), high blood pressure, and more [2]. Not all of these conditions can be prevented, however, the better health you are in, the better chances you have of making a strong recovery in the event you are affected by heart disease. This is why the steps to prevention are so important. A friend of mine’s dad had a major heart attack several years ago: he walked daily prior to his heart attack, and got to the hospital as quickly as possible (especially given he was on the highway!) once he realized something was not right. It was not long before he was again circling the block with his wife, going farther and farther as the weeks went on: to see him even just two years later, you would never guess what he had been through; the only sign is—if you know what to look for–the nitroglycerin that he is sure to carry in a leather pouch around his neck.
If you have heart disease, wearing a medical ID bracelet or necklace is usually recommended to ensure that your condition is treated correctly and promptly, either expediting or omitting unnecessary tests once your heart condition is communicated. If you are prescribed a blood thinner, blood thinner medical identification should be worn, such as a medical bracelet for warfarin, the most common anticoagulant (blood-clot stopper) in the UK [3]. You can check out our custom engraved medial ID bracelets at the My Identity Doctor shop—hand packed with lots of love by Burton the shop pup!

Tag your bag for the journey: Medical bag tags

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If you’re an avid traveler, you know the importance of keeping tags on your luggage. One trip, I could not for the life of me find a luggage tag in my house! Fortunately my suitcase made it successfully through both flights, but I can’t say I wasn’t just a tiny bit nervous because it seemed like I was tempting fate! But, how well do you identify your medical items as yours?

medical bag with red ID tag

Certain items, like blood glucose test kits, zip cases for medications, oxygen tanks or compressor bags and CPAP machines, wheelchairs or walkers, or nebulizer compressors are important, especially when travelling. Any bags that contain medical supplies should be readily identified so that if they are lost, the urgency to return them and their contents is known. Our red medical ID key chains also double as excellent bag tags. I have one attached to my nebulizer bag—if someone finds it somewhere and does not know what it is, they will at least know that it is medical equipment, and hopefully take it somewhere where they will find a way to contact me and return my supplies! 
Most of us are very careful with our medical equipment—but, especially in the hustle and bustle of travel, things happen. By outfitting your equipment or medication bag with a medical tag, such as our bright red ones, you can have the peace of mind that anybody who finds your bag can get it back to you. A tag can also help people identify where to find the medication that you might need if you cannot get to it yourself. Our tags come in both plastic and aluminum versions, as well as a red-emblem stainless steel version. While all of our products are light, I have the plastic red tag on my nebulizer bag—it’s low profile and stays out of my way, but is bright enough to see when needed. Since this small carry bag for my neb stays within my carry-on bag most of the time, I don’t test the tag’s durability too much; however, if you are really rough on your bag (like I am on my backpack!) you may prefer the aluminum version for your journeys.
And, unlike those those paper-insert plastic tags that sometimes only last one trip on your suitcase before the plastic cracks, these sturdy little tags will hold up to whatever you throw at them, just like the rest of our products. 

What is Vascular Disease?

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Image of the heart on red background, and an almost blocked artery (left) depicting plaque buildupYou may not know the term vascular disease, but you will certainly be familiar with some of these conditions affecting the vascular (or cardiovascular) system. The body’s vascular system is simply the system of arteries and veins that transport blood around the body, to and from the heart. Vascular diseases are common and can be very serious.
Some examples of vascular diseases [1]
  • Atherosclerosis – thickening and stiffening of arteries, making blood flow harder
  • Weakened blood vessels – Weakened blood vessels can burst, causing bleeding inside the body, such as in the brain (brain aneurysm).
  • Blood clots – Known as hypercoaguability (increased coagulation—or sticking together—of blood cells); commonly seen as deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the legs), pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs) or stroke (blood clot in the brain). Can also cause heart attacks and kidney problems if these blood vessels are blocked by blood clots. [2]
Are you at risk?
Often, we associate age with increased risk of vascular diseases like the ones mentioned above, specifically stroke and heart attack. However, at any age, the following can contribute to increased risk of vascular disease—and, avoiding these things can help protect you from vascular disease as you get older [1]:
  • Pregnancy – increases risk of blood clots and hypertension (high blood pressure, known as preeclampsia)
  • Family history of vascular disease, heart disease, or stroke
  • Sedentary behaviour; long periods of sitting or standing still (blood pooling in the legs)
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol (affects the arteries and narrows them)
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
Exercise, nutrition, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle at all stages of life, with minimal cigarette exposure and only casual drinking can help in preventing vascular disease. [1]
September is Vascular Disease Awareness Month in the UK. So, consider yourself more aware! Why not start taking steps to protect your vascular health today? Cap off your reading of this article with a quick walk—it’ll help improve your focus, too!
If you have any type of history of vascular disease, wearing a medical ID bracelet or necklace should be strongly considered. We have a variety of styles available to help you discreetly identify your condition in the event you need emergency medical assistance.  
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