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Health Issues - below are some of the most common health issues. Please feel free to read the information we have collected. Some of this information includes risks, tips, explanations and prevention tips for patients and caregivers.
Cerebral Palsy Muscular Dystrophy Plagiocephaly
Scoliosis Spinal Cord Injury Vascular Diseases
Diabetes    

Help for Patients and Caregivers : Vascular Diseases

Quick reference directory:

What is Vascular Disease?
What are the symptoms of Vascular Disease?
Diagnosing Vascular Disease?
What causes Vascular Disease?
Preventing Vascular Disease

 


What is Vascular Disease?

The vascular system is the network of blood vessels that circulate blood to and from the heart and lungs. Vascular diseases are very common, especially as people age. Many people have these diseases and don’t know it, because they rarely cause symptoms in the early stages. People with risk factors or any signs or symptoms of vascular disease, should be evaluated by a physician. Untreated vascular disease can lead to serious health problems, such as tissue death and gangrene requiring amputation or other surgery; chronic disability and pain; and weakened blood vessels that may rupture without warning. Deadly complications can result, including stroke (a clogged or narrowed blood vessel cuts the supply of blood to the brain), and pulmonary embolism (a blood clot breaks loose and travels to the heart and lungs).


What are the symptoms of Vascular Disease?

What are the Symptoms of Vein Disease?

Swelling and discoloration of the leg is a sign of Deep Vein Thrombosis
Swelling and discoloration of the leg is a sign of Deep Vein Thrombosis

There may be no symptoms of venous disease caused by blood clots until the clot grows large enough to block the flow of blood through the vein. Symptoms may then come on suddenly:

•   Pain
•   Sudden swelling in the affected limb
•   Enlargement of the superficial veins
•   Reddish-blue discoloration
•   Skin that is warm to the touch

What are the symptoms of Pulmonary Embolism?

•   A sudden feeling of apprehension
•   Shortness of breath
•   Sharp chest pain
•   Rapid pulse
•   Sweating
•   Cough with bloody sputum
•   Fainting

If you experience the sudden onset of any of these symptoms, contact your doctor or seek emergency treatment immediately!

Varicose veins , also called "varicoceles," result when the valves that control the flow of blood in and out of veins fail to work properly and the pull of gravity causes blood to pool in the legs or elsewhere. Varicoceles in the scrotum may cause infertility in men. Varicoceles in the veins of the ovaries may cause chronic pelvic pain in some women.

When valves fail in the legs, the superficial veins become enlarged and twisted, where they appear as twisted, dark blue vessels just under the skin’s surface. Smaller varicose veins are sometimes called spider veins. Obesity, pregnancy, constriction of the veins with garters or tight clothing, and an inherited tendency are among the contributing causes of varicose veins. Usually, there are no symptoms. Varicose veins are diagnosed by physical examination.

Women between the ages of 30 and 70 are most often affected by Varicose Veins. In the United States, 10 percent of men and 20 percent of women have varicose or spider veins. Treatment usually is not required. While most treatment is sought for cosmetic reasons – to improve the appearance of the veins in the legs – some varicose veins are painful and require treatment for medical reasons.

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Most varicose veins have no symptoms other than the appearance of purplish, knotted veins on the surface of the skin. A physician should be consulted and treatment may be required if there is:

•   Pain or heaviness in the leg, feet and ankles,
•  Swelling,
•  Sores or ulcers on the skin, or
•   Severe bleeding if the vein is injured.

Phlebitis is an inflammation of a vein that can be due to bacterial infection, injury or unknown causes. Thrombophlebitis is inflammation that results from the formation of a blood clot in an arm or leg vein. It can occur in a superficial vein near the skin surface or in a deep vein. Pain and inflammation are the most common symptoms. Unfortunately, in the case of thrombophlebitis in the deep veins (see deep vein thrombosis) there may be no symptoms unless the clot travels to the lungs, resulting in a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

Venous stasis disease also is caused by defective values in the veins, but it is far more serious than varicose veins. If a damaged valve does not close completely, pooled blood can build up in the veins causing pain, swelling and tissue damage that may lead to painful sores or ulcers. Chronic venous stasis disease can result in devastating disfigurement, disability and a lifetime of treatments and hospital stays. Fortunately, early diagnosis and treatment can avoid these long-term effects.


Diagnosing Vascular Disease?

Diagnosing Venous Disease and Pulmonary Embolism

Venous disease is diagnosed using one or more of the following techniques:

Ultrasound is a technique in which a "transducer" (a hand held device about the size of a computer mouse) is moved over the skin and harmless sound waves "bounce" back signals that are computerized to create an image. The technique is painless and has no known risk. Here, a "colorized" ultrasound image highlights the blood vessels.
Ultrasound is a technique in which a "transducer" (a hand held device about the size of a computer mouse) is moved over the skin and harmless sound waves "bounce" back signals that are computerized to create an image. The technique is painless and has no known risk. Here, a "colorized" ultrasound image highlights the blood vessels.

Duplex or Doppler Ultrasound – This non-invasive technique uses ultrasound to "see" clots or other abnormalities in the blood vessels.

CT Scan (Computed Tomography) is similar to an X-ray except the images are computerized to appear as a series of slides. When viewed together, the slices provide a three-dimensional image. Sometimes a special dye, or contrast agent, is injected or swallowed before the exam to highlight the images.

Venography is a type of X-ray (called angiography) in which a thin, flexible tube, or catheter, is threaded into the blood vessels. A local anesthetic is given to numb the skin where the catheter is inserted, and X-rays are used to guide the catheter. A contrast agent, or dye, is injected through the catheter to highlight the blood vessel and call attention to any abnormalities. This procedure is performed by an interventional radiologist – a specialist who diagnoses and treats many vascular diseases and other conditions without surgery.

Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) is a noninvasive exam in which a magnetic resonance (MR) scanner uses harmless but powerful magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of the blood vessels.

Diagnosing Pulmonary Embolism

V/Q Scan (sometimes called a V/P or ventilation/perfusion scan) is a nuclear medicine test in which short-acting radioactive particles are injected through a vein or breathed into the lungs. If there are areas of the lung that do not “take up” the particles, it is an indication that there may be a blood clot. Computed tomography (CT), chest X-rays or venography also may be used to diagnose blood clots in the lung.


What Causes Vascular Disease?

Risk Factors that increase the chances of venous disease include:

•   A family history.
•   Increasing age that results in a loss of elasticity in the veins and their valves
•   Pregnancy
•   Illness or injury
•   Prolonged periods of inactivity – sitting, standing or bed rest.
•   Hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol
•   Other conditions that affect the health of the cardiovascular system
•   Smoking
•   Obesity


Preventing Vascular Disease

The best way to prevent vascular disease is to live a “heart healthy” lifestyle – don’t smoke; eat nutritious, low fat foods; exercise; control risk factors and maintain a healthy weight.

Life style changes. The single most effective steps you can take to prevent vascular disease are to quit smoking and control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and other factors that contribute to vascular disease. Regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight also are important.


For more information on Vascular Disease visit:

- Vascular Disease Foundation
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- American Heart Association
- Society Of Interventional Radiology

CAREGIVER TIPS & INFORMATION:
  • 10 Tips for Family Caregivers
  • Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider
  • How to Communicate with an Insurance Provider
  • Find a Doctor
  • Information on Seating & Mobility
  • Tips for Family Caregivers from Doctors
  • Care Management Techniques You Can Use
  • Compare Home Health Agencies in Your Area
  • Keep loved ones connected & updated!
  • Additional Resources

 


10 Tips for Family Caregivers.

1. Caregiving is a job and respite is your earned right. Reward yourself with respite breaks often.
2. Watch out for signs of depression, and don’t delay in getting professional help when you need it.
3. When people offer to help, accept the offer and suggest specific things that they can do.
4. Educate yourself about your loved one’s condition and how to communicate effectively with doctors.
5. There’s a difference between caring and doing. Be open to technologies and ideas that promote your loved one’s independence.
6.Trust your instincts. Most of the time they’ll lead you in the right direction.
7. Caregivers often do a lot of lifting, pushing, and pulling. Be good to your back.
8. Grieve for your losses, and then allow yourself to dream new dreams.
9. Seek support from other caregivers. There is great strength in knowing you are not alone.
10. Stand up for your rights as a caregiver and a citizen.

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Tips for Family Caregivers from Doctors

•   Write questions down so you won’t forget them.
•   Be clear about what you want to say to the doctor. Try not to ramble.
•   If you have lots of things to talk about, make a consultation appointment, so the doctor can allow enough time to meet with you in an unhurried way.
•   Educate yourself about your loved one’s disease or disability. With all the information on the Internet it is easier than ever before.
•   Learn the routine at your doctor’s office and/or the hospital so you can make the system work for you, not against you.
•   Recognize that not all questions have answers—especially those beginning with “why.”
•   Separate your anger and sense of impotence about not being able to help your loved one as much as you would like from your feeling about the doctor. Remember, you are both on the same side.
•   Appreciate what the doctor is doing to help and say thank you from time to time.

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Care Management Techniques You Can Use
Did you ever wish you could just pick up the phone and call someone who would take stock of your situation, help you access the right services, counsel you and your family to help resolve some of your differences, then monitor your progress with an eye toward channeling your energy and abilities as effectively as possible? If your answer is “yes,” you’re not alone. Having the help of a care coordinator (often called a care manager) could make all of our lives easier and less lonesome, and help us be more capable family caregivers. While most of us may not have access to a care coordinator, we can all learn how to think and act like one, thereby reaping numerous benefits for our loved ones and ourselves.

What Is Care Coordination?
Although every case is different, the care coordination approach usually involves:

•   Gathering information from healthcare providers;
•   An assessment of your care recipient and the home environment;
•   Research into available public and/or private services and resources to meet      your loved one’s needs; and
•   Ongoing communication between all parties to keep information up to date      and services appropriate and effective.

Unfortunately, an assessment of your abilities and needs is not necessarily a standard part of the process, but it should be. A complete view of the situation cannot be gained without one. An objective analysis of your health, emotional state, other commitments, etc., are key elements in determining how much you can and cannot do yourself, and what type of outside support is needed to ensure your loved one’s health and safety.

Become Your Own Care Coordinator
By learning and applying at least some of the care coordination techniques and ideas that follow, you’ll be in a much better position to develop an organized course of action that will, hopefully, make you feel more confident and in control — a goal well worth working toward.

Educate yourself on the nature of the disease or disability with which you’re dealing. Reliable information is available from the health agency that deals with your loved one’s condition and the National Institutes of Health. When using the Internet, stick with wellknown medical sites. Understanding what is happening to your care recipient will provide you with the core knowledge you need to go forward. It will also make you a better advocate when talking with healthcare professionals.

Write down your observations of the present situation including:

•   Your loved one’s ability to function independently, both physically and mentally.
•   The availability of family and/or friends to form a support network to share the care.
•   The physical environment: Is it accessible or can it be adapted at reasonable cost?
•   Your other responsibilities — at work, at home, and in the community.
•   Your own health and physical abilities.
•   Your financial resources, available insurance, and existence of healthcare or end-of-life documents.

This assessment will help you come to a realistic view of the situation. It will let you know the questions to which you need answers. It can be a handy baseline for charting your caregiving journey and reminding you just how much you’ve learned along the way.

Hold a family conference. At least everyone in the immediate family should be told what’s going on. A meeting can set the stage for divvying up responsibilities so that there are fewer misunderstandings down the road when lots of help may be needed. A member of the clergy, a professional care coordinator, or even a trusted friend can serve as an impartial moderator. A family meeting is a good way to let everyone know they can play a role, even if they are a thousand miles away. It can help you, the primary family caregiver, from bearing the brunt of all the work all of the time.

Keep good records of emergency numbers, doctors, daily medications, special diets, back-up people, and other pertinent information relating to your loved one’s care. Update as necessary. This record will be invaluable if something happens to you, or if you need to make a trip to the ER. If you can maintain a computer-based record, that will make updating all that much easier and it might even allow you to provide the medical team with direct access to the information.

Join a support group, or find another caregiver with whom to converse. In addition to emotional support, you’ll likely pick up practical tips as well. Professionals network with each other all the time to get emotional support and find answers to problems or situations they face. Why shouldn’t family caregivers?

Start advance planning for difficult decisions that may lie ahead. It’s never too early to discuss wills, advance directives, and powers of attorney, but there comes a time when it is too late. It is also vital that you and your loved one think through what to do if you should be incapacitated, or, worse, die first. It can happen.

Develop a care team to help out during emergencies, or over time if your situation is very difficult. In an ideal world there will be lots of people who want to help. More likely you’ll be able to find one or two people to call on in an emergency or to help with small chores. The critical thing is to be willing to tell others what you need and to accept their help.

Establish a family regimen. When things are difficult to begin with, keeping a straightforward daily routine can be a stabilizer, especially for people who find change upsetting and confusing.

Approach some of your hardest caregiving duties like a professional. It’s extraordinarily difficult to separate your family role from your caregiving role, to lock your emotions up in a box while you focus on practical chores and decisions. But it is not impossible to gain some distance some of the time. It requires an almost single-minded approach to getting the job at hand done as efficiently and effectively as possible. It takes practice, but is definitely worth the effort.

©National Family Caregivers Association | www.nfcacares.org | Phone: 800/896-3650

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Seating & Mobility - As a caregiver, you need to be very understanding to the individuals needs. This is a very hard time as they are being told they need to start living their life in a different manor than they had done so previously. It will be most beneficial to educate them, either with a professional, or through a support group. Getting them involved in different activities with others in the same condition, the individual will be able to make the transition much easier. As far as the actual device, you will want to make sure that the individual is fully capable of performing all the operations of the mobility device and can do so in a comfortable manor. Areas to pay close attention to include an adjustable backrest, a suspension system, a fore-and-aft track adjustment, an up-and-down seat adjustment, an armrest and/or footrest, and lumbar region support.

How do you care for your mobility device?

The most important areas that you need to pay attention to are referred to as the 3 B’s…Bad batteries, bent wheel rims and failed bearings. If you notice something that doesn’t seem right, but it isn’t all too annoying, you should still get it looked at right away. This could prevent a more severe accident from happening. So as the saying goes “it’s better to be safe than sorry”.

When a wheelchair is purchased, you will want to make sure that all the correct adjustments and modifications are made. This needs to be done by a professional and should take up to a couple of hours if done correctly. As long as the proper measures are taken initially, the work of maintaining the device will be substantially easier.

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Additional Resources

It's always wise to find out what your county and state have to offer in the way of services, even if you think you won't qualify for them. Check the blue pages of your phone book for the numbers, or go on line. Counties and states all have web sites. Type the name of your state or county and state into any major search engine i.e. Iowa, or Montgomery County, PA. Navigate from there to locate the Department of Health and Human Services and the specific office most relevant to your needs such office on disabilities, elder affairs, or material and child health.

Other good sources of information include your local hospital or clinic (social work department), area adult day centers, social service and faith-based agencies, and/or the local chapter of the health agency that focuses on your loved one's condition. It is by no means certain that any of these will offer caregiver support services, but they are good places to check, and they are good sources for information about services to directly support your loved one.

National Family Caregivers Association
10400 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 500
Kensington, MD 20895
800-896-3650
Web site: http://www.thefamilycaregiver.org
e-mail: info@thefamilycaregiver.org

The National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) is a grassroots organization created to educate, support, empower and advocate for the millions of Americans who care for chronically ill, aged, or disabled loved ones. NFCA is the only constituency organization that reaches across the boundaries of different diagnoses, different relationships and different life stages to address the common needs and concerns of all family caregivers. NFCA serves as a public voice for family caregivers to the press, to Congress and the general public. NFCA offers publications, information, referral services, caregiver support, and advocacy.

Caregiver-Specific Web Sites
There are a variety of Web sites that offer information and support for family caregivers, in addition to those from specific organizations.

•  http://www.caregiver.org
•  http://www.caregiving.org
•  http://www.caregiving.com
•  http://www.caregiver.com

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