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Health Capsules: Nov. 22

By: Lisa Russell

Emergency room physician Dr. Christian Nunez of Progress West Hospital with ER nurses [from left] Amanda Harris, Jeanne Buchholz, Jan Young and Eva Jackson with some of the items the team sent to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas.

Local ER team sends support to Las Vegas hospital

After a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, killing 58 and injuring 546 others, more than 200 of those victims were rushed to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, the nearest trauma center to the concert site.

Kathy Donovan, that hospital’s chief operating officer, happens to have close ties to BJC of St. Charles County. Less than a year ago, Donovan left a position here as patient care services director for Barnes-Jewish St. Peters and Progress West Hospitals to assume her new executive post in Las Vegas.
The morning following the tragedy, Progress West Emergency Department Manager Kerrie Livers reached out to Donovan to check on her, and learned that she had been at the hospital all night tending to patients.

“I knew the health care providers were probably just starting to realize and absorb what happened,” Livers said.  “I just wanted to help.”

Aided by contributions from fellow staff members, BJC physicians and others in the community, Livers and her team put together several large care baskets and shipped them to Sunrise Hospital’s emergency room staff. The baskets were filled with personal care and comfort items, Starbucks gift cards and snacks – including Donovan’s personal favorite, Pringles – to help lift the spirits of the Sunrise team. “We ER nurses are a rare breed,” said Amanda Harris of Progress West.

“We like to support each other and to be there for each other in our time of need.”

As the U.S. marks its annual Great American Smokeout in November, a new Canadian program centered around running may offer a model for smokers who want to quit for good.

Taking up running helps smokers kick the habit

The 2017 Great American Smokeout, an annual American Cancer Society event encouraging smokers to simply quit for a day or make a plan to quit for good, took place on Thursday, Nov. 16. While rates of cigarette smoking have dropped significantly, from 42 percent in 1965 to about 15 percent today, more than 36 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and use of other addictive tobacco products – including cigar, pipe and hookah – is on the rise.

Those who continue to smoke know how dangerous, even deadly, the habit is; still, many find quitting to be nearly impossible. But a new quitting method recently introduced by Canadian health authorities may offer up to half of smokers an increased chance of success: running. That was the conclusion of a new study which found that about half the people who completed a 10-week running program were able to kick the habit successfully.

Last year, 170 smokers across Canada registered for the new program, called Run to Quit, offered through a partnership between the Canadian Cancer Society and a nationwide running and fitness retailer. The weekly sessions included classroom time divided between running instruction and strategies for quitting smoking, plus an outdoor walking/running component that culminated in a 5K run.

Of the 72 participants who stayed in the program for the entire 10 weeks, 37 had quit smoking, which was verified through carbon monoxide testing. The number of successful quitters held steady six months later. Even among those who did not quit completely, more than 90 percent of those who participated said they were smoking less.

“This shows that physical activity can be a successful smoking cessation aid and that a community-based program might offer that, because doing it on your own is very difficult,” said Carly Priebe, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia and lead author of the study.

Currently, a formal quit-smoking program related to running, similar to Run to Quit, does not exist in the U.S. However, for smokers in the St. Charles County area who may want to give its methods a try, several local running groups are open to novice runners and walkers who wish to get more physically active for any reason. The Fun Run Club of Greater St. Louis [funrunclub.org], along with area Big River Running and Fleet Feet stores and the informational website stlouisruns.com, are just a few local sources of information about how to get started with a community-based running group.

Hockey’s impact on the heart

Blues fans, take note: Watching a hockey game, either on TV or in the arena, may be hazardous to your health. A new study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, which looked at the effects of watching high-intensity hockey games on cardiovascular health, found reasons for caution for die-hard hockey fans – especially those with existing heart disease.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Montreal Heart Institute at the University of Montreal, included 20 healthy men and women over the age of 18. The participants were questioned about their general health, and also were asked to assess their level of support of, and passion for, the sport of professional hockey. They were then asked to wear a cardiac holter monitor as they watched a hockey game.

The research found that, compared to their baseline resting heart rates, watching the intense moments of a hockey game caused study participants’ heart rates to double in many cases. On average, they experienced a 75 percent increase in heart rate while watching a game on television – equivalent to a session of moderate exercise – and a 110 percent increase when they watched it in person, the same level of cardiac stress produced by strenuous exercise. Those peaks in heart rate also occurred more frequently than the researchers expected; viewers’ hearts were found to be racing during all scoring opportunities for either team throughout the entire game as well as any overtime played.

“[It] is not the outcome of the game that primarily determines the intensity of the emotional stress response, but rather the excitement experienced with viewing high-stakes or high-intensity portions of the game,” said Dr. Paul Khairy of the Montreal Heart Institute, the study’s leader. “The study raises the potential that the emotional stress-induced response of viewing a hockey game can trigger adverse cardiovascular events on a population level.”

The authors theorized that becoming emotionally involved in the excitement of sporting events can overstimulate the sympathetic nervous system of some spectators, and could weaken the heart over time. However, they conceded that “it remains to be determined whether the observed stress response translates into an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes.”

“[This] research raises public awareness about the potential role of emotional sports-related stressors in triggering cardiac events, and opens up avenues for future research into mitigating such risks,” Khairy added. Previous research – which has involved professional sports other than hockey – has shown that people who already have coronary heart disease are more likely to have dangerous heart events as a result of watching sports. The Montreal Heart Institute study is the first to investigate the specific effects of watching hockey on the heart.

On the calendar

The American Red Cross sponsors a Community Blood Drive on Wednesday, Nov. 29 from 1-5 p.m. at Culver’s of St. Charles, 2750 Muegge Road in St. Charles.  Residents donating a pint of blood will receive a pint of frozen custard at this event. To register for an appointment time, visitredcrossblood.org.

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BJC offers its final Babysitting 101 course of 2017 from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2 at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters, in Suite 117 of Medical Office Building 1. This class is an introduction to the basics of babysitting. Topics include the business of babysitting, child development, safety and first aid, and fun and games. A workbook, backpack and light snack are provided. The course fee is $30 per child. Registration is required by calling (636) 344-5437.

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BJC offers cholesterol and glucose wellness screenings from 7:30-9:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 8 at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters, in Suite 117 of Medical Office Building 1. Screenings include cholesterol and glucose measurements; a one-on-one consultation with a registered nurse/health coach providing blood pressure and body composition measurement also is provided. Cost is $20 for all screenings; a 10-hour fast and advance appointments are required. To register, visit BJCSt.CharlesCounty.org or call (636) 928-9355.

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