What to Know and Expect if Your Doctor Recommends a Stress Echocardiogram

stress echocardiogramPhoto by BlueOctane on English Wikipedia

Have you had a recent doctor’s appointment and been told that a stress echocardiogram should be done? If you’ve never had one of these before, it can cause a bit of stress on its own. It’s normal to get nervous and feel unsure about tests and procedures that you know nothing about. While you can and should ask your doctor for more details, it can be helpful to also do your own research to put your mind at ease and answer your questions.

So, before you get yourself too worked up or nervous about it, let’s take an in-depth look at what a stress echocardiogram is, why it is done, how long it takes, and what is involved. We will also touch upon the results and information that the test can reveal so that you feel more comfortable going into the test.

What is a Stress Echocardiogram?

A stress echocardiogram is often referred to as a stress test, or even a stress echo. The purpose of the test is to take a look at your blood vessels and heart so the doctor can determine how well they are working. In order to see how your heart and blood vessels are working, you will actually perform exercises during the test while you are being monitored.

An ultrasound image is taken of your heart once your heart rate increases. The reason this is done is that it will show how much oxygen and blood is working its way into your heart’s muscles.

Why Would a Doctor Order a Stress Echocardiogram?

So why would a doctor order this type of test? Well there are a few reasons that may prompt them to order the test be done such as a heart attack, coronary artery disease, chest pain, or a myocardial infarction.

And it’s not just about looking at disease and health issues; if you have been a recent patient of angioplasty, bypass grafting, or take antiarrhythmic or anti-anginal medication, the test can show how effective the treatment has been. It gives doctors that all-important inside look at how your heart is functioning and responding.

What to Expect During the Test

Now that you’re feeling clearer on what the test is and why it’s ordered, it’s time to put your mind at ease regarding the actual test itself. This is a non-invasive test so you don’t have to worry about any sort of involved procedure. It’s also relatively safe but there can be side effects such as fainting, dizziness, an abnormal heart rate, or in extreme cases heart attack. This is because you will be exerting a fair amount of energy as you exercise.

When you first arrive for your test, a technician will place small electrodes on your chest. These are flat patches that are sticky so they stay in place. During the exercise portion of the test, they will attach wires to the electrodes that will read the electrical activity happening in your heart. This doesn’t hurt, nor will you feel a thing. Sometimes a clear gel will also be applied to your skin in order to help the electrodes stick better.

Now it’s time for the resting echocardiogram which will take a look at your heart’s activity before exercise. Once that is done, it’s time to get exercising. Typically, you will work out on a stationary bike or treadmill. The technician will inform you about the intensity that you need to exert during the test.

They will want to get your heart rate elevated as much as possible, so you will be exerting a lot of energy. The test tends to take about 10 minutes. During this time if you start to have any sort of chest pain, you feel weak, or you get dizzy, it’s important to let the technician know.

You will keep exercising until the technician tells you to stop. At that point, an ultrasound is done so that they can see how your heart is functioning. You can then start a cool down period to allow your heart to return to its natural level. Again, the technician will monitor you during this time.

In some cases, you will perform a stress test with medication. If that’s the case, the medication is administered through your arm using an IV. This is so that a resting EKG can also be done, which will make your heart think you are still exercising. During this process it’s common for the technician to ask how you’re doing at regular intervals.

How to Prepare Yourself for the Test

In total, the test should take about an hour. Typically, you will be told not to eat or drink for four hours leading up to the test. If you are a smoker, you will be asked not to smoke on the day of the test. If you happen to take medication, then you will need to ask your doctor if you should still take it that day.

Now, because you will be working out, you want to dress in loose comfortable clothing and supportive athletic shoes. Choose a shirt that makes it easy for the electrodes to be placed under. In other words, skip the tight top.

Understanding the Results

As for the results, you may or may not be given them on that same day. This will depend on where you get your test done and who is there to perform it and read the results. If your test comes back as normal, then you know your heart is functioning well and there aren’t any issues.

If you get an abnormal test result, then it could mean that there is damage to your heart or that it isn’t pumping blood in an effective manner. These tests can also help as far as predicting future issues so that you can take measures to prevent things like heart disease.

Having a stress echocardiogram done is nothing to be worried about, and instead should be seen as a valuable tool in assessing your heart’s health.

5 Ways to Improve Your Quality of Living

quality of livingPhoto by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

There are no two ways about it: you deserve for your quality of living to be as good as it can be. This quality of life involves you being as happy, as healthy, and as contented with your existence as humanly as possible.

If you feel like your quality of living could do with a much-needed improvement, then it is you that has to resolve to bring this change about because unfortunately, nobody is going to do it for you. To see what you need to do so, read on.

1. Don’t stand for little problems to linger

Aches and ailments small enough not to be life-threatening, but big enough for you to know that they exist, class as little problems. You can’t allow for such troubles to linger if you want to improve your quality of living. If you do and you let them fester, they will stop you from living each day pain-free, which means you will be held back from doing something that you either need or want to do. Whether you’re not allowed to eat what you like because of a locked jaw or whether you can’t go running because of a bad leg, you shouldn’t stand for any little problems to hamper your day-to-day life. You deserve to do what you like, when you like. Being able to that is a massive contributor to your quality of living.

To beat your little problems and subsequently improve your quality of living, you have to, first and foremost, seek medical attention. No matter how innocuous you think your problem might be, you should be taking your troubles to your local GP. They’ve seen and dealt with everything already, so you need not worry about them laughing you out of their office. If you aren’t comfortable with going to see your doctor then, at the very least, you should seek to learn as much about your problem as you can. By doing that, you’ll understand what you need to do to make each day more manageable, and you could even stumble across a cure altogether.

2. Switch to a diet that is rich in proteins and nutrients

There is always a lot to be gotten out of switching to a diet that is rich in proteins and nutrients. If you were to do so, your quality of living would improve drastically because you would find yourself falling ill far less.

One such diet that you could consider turning to is a vegan one, this being one where you cut out animal products entirely; certainly no meat, and even no dairy products either. Of course, this would instantly take away of a lot of the protein and nutrients that you’re used to in your typical diet, but this isn’t as bad as some make it out to be. When you lose the protein and nutrients from your old diet, all you have to do is replace them with new proteins and new nutrients in your new one. It means eating a lot of seitan, hempseed and an abundance of green peas. The real benefit from going vegan is because, by doing so, you would instantly instill a strict dieting policy upon yourself. This would make you far less tempted to indulge upon unhealthy sources of protein than you would be if you stuck to a regular diet.

3. Set aside time to think

If meditation truly is not your thing, then you should at least be setting yourself some time aside each day just to think. By doing so daily, and being very strict with the amount of time that you allow yourself to get lost with your thoughts, you will find yourself covering and then coming to terms with a lot of the problems that plague your mind throughout the day. If you are in fact strict and do not allow for your thinking to overlap the allotted time, you will stop yourself from worrying at random, inconvenient points in the day. This’ll benefit your mental health and make each day easier to circumvent successfully, thus, improving your quality of living.

4. Learn something new

Something else that will see you tend to your mental health and improve your quality of living as you do is learning something new. By teaching yourself or being taught something that you know nothing about, be it a foreign language, a new instrument, or anything else at all, you will introduce new patterns to your brain. As a result, your memory would stand a chance of being boosted, meaning you’d be able to remember more of all the important pieces of information that your boss fires at you each day. You might even be able to remember that all-important anniversary that you always seem to forget, and your quality of living (especially at that time of the year) would certainly benefit from being able to do that!

5. Step out of your comfort zone as often as you can

Amongst many other things, your quality of living revolves firmly around your inner happiness. To ensure that you are as happy as can be, you need to be able to do the things that will make you happy. It means you have to teach yourself to do what it is you want to do, regardless of what that voice in the back of your head tells you. To beat the anxieties that you feel when you consider doing certain things, you have to step out of your comfort zone routinely, and you have to try and make bold decisions regularly.

Improving your quality of living is a task that you should take incredibly serious. If you don’t, you will not live the kind of life that you want nor deserve.

To improve your quality of living, you have to resolve to put the five pieces of advice found above into practice. You have to stop letting problems prevent you from living in a big way; you have to switch your diet and make it far healthier; you have to tend to your mental wellness; and you have to be courageous when it comes to doing whatever it is you want to do in life.

How to Successfully Recover after a Big Surgery

healing from surgeryPhoto by rawpixel on Unsplash

Whether your surgery was routine or due to an emergency, the recovery period after must be done with care. You don’t want to push yourself too far, and you don’t want to over-rely on medication to get you through this period, either. There can be a lot of complications post-surgery, and it is up to you to be patient with yourself, to follow these steps, and to stay in touch with your doctor if there are any complications:

1. Be Careful with Your Pain Killer Prescriptions

When your body is healing from surgery, you will be in pain. You will also be prescribed opiates to deal with said pain. Common prescription medication like Codeine, Hydrocodone (known as Vicodin or Hycodan), Oxycodone (known as Oxycontin, Dilaudid, and Fentanyl) can all be dangerous. The longer your healing process and the longer your prescription, the more danger you are in. This is because we build up antibodies to medication, just as we do to viruses. In order to experience the same pain relief, you will need to up your dosages, and unfortunately, you are much more likely to develop an addiction to higher doses. To overcome any addiction, you will then need to commit yourself to inpatient rehab. Opiates can take days if not weeks to leave your system. If you don’t go through rehab after developing an addiction, you run the risk of overdosing in the future.

2. Keep Your Wounds Clean and Re-Dress

Infection following an operation is a real concern, which is why you need to be on top of cleaning and redressing your wounds. The last thing you want is for a wound to become infected after surgery, as this will often require a new surgery or bout in the hospital in order to cure. You also don’t want to over-rely on antibiotics, so keep your wounds cleaned to reduce the chance of infection and inflammation.

3. Follow Your Physiotherapist’s Instructions at Home

If your surgery was either to help you regain movement, or affected your movement, chances are you will need to commit to physiotherapy to correctly heal. If you don’t, then your movement will likely be limited for the rest of your life. Remember to push yourself as your physiotherapist suggests, but to be honest about how you feel and your pain levels.

4. Be Patient with Your Healing Process

It can be difficult to heal when it takes a long time, but that is no excuse to push yourself before you are ready. Yes, the pain will be a good coach in regards to what you can and cannot do, but overexerting yourself can be just as dangerous. Be patient with how long it takes so that when you finally do get back up on your feet, it is for good.

With every surgery comes risk, and this risk does not end once you are discharged from the hospital. Internal bleeding, infection, and a myriad of other complications could make your recovery process longer. By instead following these tips, you can reduce the risk and improve your chances to heal correctly.

6 Reasons Why Self-Care Is Not Selfish

self-carePhoto by kevin laminto on Unsplash

It seems that everywhere we turn there is someone or something telling us that we need to be working non-stop, that resting and relaxation are bad ideas, that we always need to put other people before ourselves. Although in some cases and some circumstances this may well be true, most of the time it is much more important to take care of yourself. If you can do this, you will be in a better position to help others, and you will be happier and healthier too. If you feel that self-care is a selfish thing to do, we’ve put together some of the biggest reasons that this is far from the truth. Maybe it’s time to slow down and think of yourself for a change!

Get To Know Yourself

In all the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to lose sight of what is most important, and the goals that we once might have set ourselves. When you are always doing something for someone else and not focusing on your own needs, the plans and ideas you had can disappear, leaving you feeling unfulfilled and miserable. When you take the time to be by yourself and look after your own needs and your health too, you can get back on track with those plans, and remind yourself of them if you have forgotten where you wanted to head.

If you can commit to doing just one thing for yourself every day (such as taking time to read a chapter of a book or choosing one TV show to enjoy), you will find it easier to remember what it was you wanted to do and work out a way to get there. It will be hard at first, especially if your natural instinct is to care for others first and not even think of your own needs, but it will be worth it. Looking after yourself doesn’t mean forgetting to take care of other people, it just means that you will be able to do it more effectively and help them even more.

Others Will Benefit

The only real way to help other people in a physical, mental, or spiritual way is to ensure that you are the best you can possibly be, and without self-care, this is impossible. You must have a healthy body and mind if you are going to inspire others to have the same. In a purely practical way, you need to be healthy so that you can meet the needs of others too. For example, you might have a hearing problem that means you can’t understand what others need to say to you when they are asking for help. It isn’t selfish to look into the facts about using a hearing aid, and you can view here to find out more, such as the benefits and where to buy a hearing aid. If you find that you are suffering from depression, you won’t be able to fully function enough to assist other people, and it isn’t selfish to ask for help.

No matter what your problem may be, getting help for it or working to make yourself better in every way possible is the only way you can truly help other people.

You Will Live More

The sad fact is that many people are simply existing and not actually living. When you exist, you are going through the motions of what you need to do to stay alive and not really feeling anything more. It’s waking up, going to work, coming home again, going to bed, and waking up to start all over again. This is fine for many people, but is it fine for you? Would you rather be living and experiencing all kinds of different, exciting things? If so, you must take care of yourself to be able to function properly and truly make the most of all the opportunities that are presented to you. You will still have responsibilities, but for those who are able to take care of themselves, those responsibilities are not a problem, and clearer thinking means more ability to enjoy life to the fullest.

You’ll Feel Empowered

Self-care is something that can truly empower you. Taking time for yourself can be a big step, but once it is done and you realize the benefits you are feeling from it, you will understand that you can, if you try, do anything. This is massively empowering and will help you to take on those opportunities as mentioned above. Focus on yourself and work out what you need to do to feel as good as you possibly can, then go for it!

You’ll Be More Motivated

Sometimes life can be hard, and you might find that you lose any motivation you once had because you feel ground down and tired of it all. When this happens, you can easily fall into the routine of simply existing and going from one task to another, doing what is expected of you, feeling unsatisfied but not being able to do anything much about it.

When you step back and take time for yourself, whether it’s being pampered in a spa, taking a walk in nature, or simply lying down for a rest, you’ll start to recover. You need this alone time to do something that fills your soul with happiness because, in this way, you will find your motivation once more. When you do, life automatically becomes more exciting, and you can enjoy it finally.

You’ll Be Physically Healthier

Even if your mind is happy and feeling fulfilled when you are constantly helping others, your body will start to become tired and stop functioning as it should if you don’t take any time to have a rest and care for your own needs. This is because you can easily become over-tired and not sleep enough as you should, therefore not allowing your body to heal itself overnight. Or perhaps you are skipping meals or eating unhealthy snacks and junk food because you don’t have time to do anything else due to your routine of caring for other people and putting your own needs last. You might even be drinking too much alcohol because it is the only way you can find to wind down after everything is done. All of this will make you unhealthy and cause you many problems. Your own health must always be a priority.

7 Strategies To Help You Minimize Stress At Work

stress at workPhoto by energepic.com @ Pexels

It’s not enjoyable to always be stressed out and feeling out of sorts in the workplace. Luckily, there are a couple of different strategies you can use to help you reduce your worries so you can be more productive and focus on your tasks.

You can’t sit back waiting for your situation to get better all on its own. To improve your circumstances you have to be willing to take measures that will make a real impact on how you function at work. Give it time for these modifications to set in and see for yourself how much less anxiety you have in the office.

Exercise & Move More

You can reduce stress at work by making it a point to exercise and move more whenever possible. You’ll not only be in better shape, but your mood will lift, and your mental health will head in the right direction as well.

How you can fit it into your routine:

• Hit the gym before or after work, but also remember to get up and take breaks every so often and go for walks at lunchtime instead of staring at your computer screen.

• Opt for walking instead of driving or taking the bus whenever an opportunity arises.
It’s important to give your brain a rest from thinking and to get your blood pumping so you can focus better once you return to your desk. Use your workouts as a time to think through matters you’re dealing with and come up with solutions to any problems you’re facing.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is critical to you being able to function to the best of your ability in the workplace. Without it, you’ll feel like you have to drag yourself through your days and likely won’t be in any kind of shape or mood to interact with others. Reduce your stress in the workplace by making sure you get enough sleep each night and come into the office feeling well-rested.

What are the benefits of a good night’s sleep?

You’ll be able to think clearer and work through difficult matters logically without letting your emotions take over when you aren’t sleep deprived. Keep in mind you have vacation days for a reason, so don’t be afraid to use them if you need to catch up on rest.

Consider Outsourcing Tasks or Projects

You can better reduce your stress at work by delegating assignments and outsourcing tasks or projects. Refer to this helpful article to see for yourself all the reasons why this might be the right decision for you at your job. Taking these types of actions allows you to free up some of your schedule so you can attend to other important matters that require your time and attention. Get whatever you can off of your plate and distribute the work to those who are qualified to handle and complete it, so you aren’t trying to do it all yourself.

Build Positive Relationships

You’re going to enjoy going to work a lot more when you spend time building positive relationships in the office. Reduce your stress by having a few people who you trust and can turn to in time of need or when you have a topic on your mind you want to discuss with someone else. Nurture these relationships and help ensure that work is somewhat fun and engaging for you and not an activity you have to force yourself to do each day. Be friendly, approachable and helpful, and you should have no trouble making new friends in the workplace. Take the initiative and organize a team happy hour so you can all get to know each other better over time.

Address Issues Promptly & Professionally

Open communication is essential to you feeling less stressed out because you won’t be in the dark about important matters at work. What will help you minimize your frustrations is to proactively address any issues that arise both promptly and professionally. Talk to anyone involved in the situation face-to-face and clear the air so there’s no confusion or unresolved feelings that could emerge later. Try to avoid politics and gossiping as much as possible and go right to the source if you want to have a more pleasant experience in the office. Be willing to listen to others before jumping to conclusions or making assumptions.

Avoid Junk Food & Soda

What you put in your body as fuel can either increase or decrease your levels of anxiety and make you feel more or less stressed out. It’s in your best interest to avoid eating a lot of junk food and drinking soda both at and outside of the office. Instead, bring your lunch and healthy snacks to work so you have food that you can munch on when you’re hungry and aren’t tempted to consume the break room candies and desserts. Take better care of yourself and focus on living a healthy lifestyle and you won’t’ have to rely on sugar and caffeine for an extra energy boost while at work.

Practice Deep Breathing Exercises

Believe it or not, your breath has a lot to do with how you feel physically and emotionally. The more in control you are with your breathing, the less stress you’re going to feel overall. The upside is that you can practice deep breathing exercises anywhere both inside and outside of the office and no one even has to know. It’s a helpful technique to use when you’re faced with a challenging conversation or have to give a presentation. Don’t be afraid to go into your office and shut the door and reflect and breathe for a few minutes whenever you feel your tension rising.

Conclusion

These are a few useful strategies that you can use to help you reduce your stress at work so you can focus and feel more content overall. Notice when you start to feel your frustrations or tensions rising and apply these tips in your life so you can avoid any unfortunate situations. Be proactive and take accountability for your actions and you’ll likely quickly notice that you don’t have so much other drama to deal with or manage.