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Six Stroke Secrets
3 months ago

Six Stroke Secrets

6 ways to reduce your risk of stroke

  1. Blood Pressure Control: Having consistently high or uncontrolled blood pressure causes damage to the walls of the tubes that carry blood (blood vessels) to important parts of the body like the brain! Damage to these walls can make them narrow and weak which can lead breakages and a clot to form to plug the hole- ultimately this leads to stroke! There are lots of drug and non-drug options to lower and stabilise blood pressure, speaking to your doctor or pharmacist is the best way to explore these options
  2. Cholesterol Control: Just like high blood pressure, high cholesterol can cause damage to your blood vessels and lead to stroke- high cholesterol is linked closely to genetics, so if your mum or dad had high cholesterol there is a chance you may have it too. If you’re not sure get it checked out because high cholesterol is a silent disease- you may not know you have it until it is too late.
  3. Quitting Smoking: Smoking increases blood pressure (and we’ve already read how bad that is for us!) however it also limits the amount of oxygen in the blood and releases over 4000 other toxic chemicals into the blood stream which cause damage to our blood vessels (again, we know how bad that is for us!) Smoking also causes the blood to become ‘sticky’- like honey- which increases the risk of blood clots forming and stroke or heart disease. Quitting is not an easy process and is more likely to be successful if you have a team of supportive people, such as your doctor and pharmacist, to help you make the change and stick to it!
  4. Maintain a healthy weight:  Being overweight increases our blood pressure, cholesterol and risk of type 2 diabetes- all increase your risk of stroke. Just like smoking, losing weight can be hard, so having a team of people around you, such as doctors, pharmacists and dieticians, can make the journey a little easier.
  5. Eat a Balanced Diet and Exercise Regularly: So we know that being overweight increases our weight but diet and lifestyle also play a role regardless of weight. Being inactive increases our blood pressure, cholesterol and risk of diabetes and heart disease- all which increase our risk of stroke. Being active most days for around 30 minutes helps lower our blood pressure, cholesterol and risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Salt is a contributor to increased blood pressure and stroke risk- eating fresh, unprocessed food helps us to lower our salt intake as often it is hidden in pre-packaged food.
  6.  Limit Alcohol: A lot of people enjoy a glass of wine or a beer after a hard day’s work; however, those who consume more than 6 standard drinks per day are at an increased risk of stroke.

At Ascot Vale Pharmacy we can monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol, provide advice and support for you to lower and maintain these levels as well as provide support for smoking cessation and weight-loss. As part of our staff we have a hypnotherapist and a health and wellness coach who are able to support lifestyle changes necessary to lower your stroke risk.

If this post has sparked an interest in stroke risk reduction, come along to our free information session in the pharmacy at 11am on Saturday the 8th of September to learn more about stroke and have your individual risk assessed.



5 Ways to Improve Immune Health
3 months ago

5 Ways To Improve Immune Health

  1. Probiotics: Normal bacteria, particularly of the lower gut play a pivotal role in maintaining our immune health. Over 400 different strains of bacteria live in the gut, when these are out of balance the relationship between the gut and the immune system is interrupted and your likelihood of attracting infection increases. To restore and maintain this healthy balance, a probiotic which has a variety of strains of bacteria that normally live and flourish in the gut should be chosen
  2. Vitamin D: We usually associate Vitamin D with calcium and bone health but this magic little nutrient plays a role in many more processes in our body. As well as being important for the development of healthy bones, Vitamin D plays a role in protein metabolism, muscle health, heart health, blood pressure regulation, prostate health AND immunity. Vitamin D is an immune system modulator which supports our normal immune defence cells.
  3. Vitamin C: When you are sick with the common cold, vitamin C reduces the severity and duration of symptoms. The release of histamine is responsible for a runny nose and the congestion we get with the common cold. Vitamin C destroys histamine and prevents it secretion thereby alleviating the nasal symptoms of a cold. Additionally, it helps our ‘natural killer cells’ which are programmed to kill foreign cells such as common cold viruses.
  4. Herbs- Echinacea, andrographis and olive leaf all assist in alleviating the severity of common cold symptoms, sore throat, coughs and fevers. When using these herbs in combination they support immune function and reduce recovery time
  5. Diet, rest and sleep! Fruits and vegetable are full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which all work to improve your immune function. The more variety of colour, shape and texture the more variety of vitamins and nutrients, the greater the benefit to your overall health!

It is important to note that not all herbs, vitamins or nutrients are appropriate for everybody and we strongly encourage thorough assessment of your condition before commencing any nutritional supplement. At Ascot Vale Pharmacy our in-house naturopath, Sophie, is available on Mondays and Thursdays for information or consultations. Our pharmacists, who are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week, are also a wealth of information when it comes to the right nutritional supplement for you! Come in and see us anytime of the day, or call us on 9370 4146 to find out what we can do to support your immune function and get you better, stay healthy and be happy!



Be MedicineWise Week 2017
4 months ago

Medicine misuse can happen to anybody!

It is frustrating when your medicines aren’t making any difference to your condition and every tablet you take gives you a new problem to deal with. It is difficult to manage when you are taking 8 white pills that all look the same and trying to remember what each of them does is impossible. It is time-consuming and easy to forget to take different tablets at all hours of the day.

Taking a medicine, either prescribed, over the counter or complementary/alternative at the wrong time or in the wrong dose, sharing your medicines with family or friends, taking multiple medicines, which could lead to incorrect dosing or side effects or taking medicines with other substances like illegal drugs or alcohol is considered medicine misuse. Medicine misuse is the second most frequently reported clinical incident in public hospitals, accounting for 25% of all reported incidents. The harms that medication misuse can cause to patients can be catastrophic however are often avoidable.

The good news is, pharmacists are a readily available information source to clarify any concerns or questions you have about your medicines. They can provide services such as ‘medschecks’ which are one on one consultation where the pharmacists reviews your medications, provides thorough information about them and provides a list to ensure you understand each of them at home. If remembering to take your tablets or the sheer number of them overwhelms you, tablet administration aids are available to make life easier.

Medicine misuse can happen to anyone, it is not always intentional. Here, at Ascot Vale Pharmacy, we are open 24 hours a day so drop in and see us at 67-69 Union Rd Ascot Vale 3032 or, even if you don’t want to leave the house, give us a call on (03) 9370 4146.



Introducing F&P SleepStyle™
5 months ago

The new SleepStyle™ CPAP machine by Fisher Paykel offers the latest in technology & design for people suffering from sleep apnoea to get the best quality night's sleep. Features of the new machine include:

User-friendly menu - the machine has a new and improved easy to use menu to make it easy to use

Built-in connectivity options - patients can access the information anywhere and anytime by using the SleepStyle App

Improved humidification - humidification features a heated breathing tube with newer technology that is designed to minimise condensation and improve comfort

Quiet, integrated design - the power supply and humidifier have been integrated fully, to minimise space taken on the bedside table

Be one of the first to purchase the new machine to receive a 5 year warranty (normally 2 years) and 20% off the machine.



Understanding Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and CPAP Therapy
5 months ago

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

What is obstructive sleep apnoea?

People who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) slow or stop breathing for short periods while sleeping. In OSA, complete relaxation of the throat muscles causes blockage of the upper airway at the back of the tongue. Normal breathing then slows or stops completely. Such an episode is called an apnoea.This can happen many times during the night. These breathing stoppages interrupt sleep which results in poor sleep quality. Most sufferers awaken unrefreshed, feeling tired and are ofter feeling excessive sleepy during the day. Because these events occur during sleep, a person suffering from OSA is usually unaware of them and is often the last one to know what is happening.

Who gets OSA?

Whilst OSA is more common in overweight middle-aged males who snore, it can also affect females. Narrowing of the back of the throat and the upper airway caused by a small jaw or enlarged tonsils for example, can also contribute to the risk of getting OSA, even in people who are not overweight or middle-aged. The use of alcohol and sleeping tablets prior to sleep tend to further relax the upper airway muscles and can make OSA worse. Most people with OSA snore loudly and breathing during sleep may be laboured and noisy.

How is OSA treated?

The chosen form of treatment depends on the individual, the cause and the severity of OSA. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), non-surgical treatments including mouth splints and surgery to treat some of the physical problems are all treaments options for OSA. CPAP therapy is the most common and effective treatment currently available.

What is CPAP therapy?

A CPAP pump delivers air at low pressure to the upper airways via a plastic tube attached to a close-fitting nose mask. It is worn during sleep and acts by keeping the upper airway open during deep sleep with air delivered at a positive pressure. This form of treatment is ideal for moderate to severe OSA. It prevents disrupted sleep, improves sleep quality, reduces daytime sleepiness, and abolishes snoring.

If you have sleep problems, your GP can organise a referral to have a sleep study. Sleep studies can be carried out overnight in your own home or in a sleep laboratory. A Sleep Specialist will then determine the problem and make appropriate recommendations for treatment options. 

If your Sleep Specialist has recommended CPAP therapy our trained staff can help you with trialling the most appropriate machine and mask for your individual circumstances before purchasing the equipment. Our staff can help trouble shoot any problems that you may encounter including fitting the mask correctly and getting the most out of your CPAP machine to give the best quality night's sleep. 

 



Painful Problems
6 months ago

Painful Problems

The 5 Best Ways to Manage Persistent Pain

  1. Understand pain – how you feel it, why you feel it and what it means

Pain is a protective mechanism. It is our brain’s way of removing us from danger. For example, if you put your hand on a hot plate, a message runs from the temperature sensors in our hands, up the spinal cord, to the brain which says “OUCH - get away from that!” When our hand is removed and the blister has healed the pain we felt goes away. Unfortunately, this simple explanation of acute pain does NOT apply to persistent painPersistent pain is felt when the brain's warning system is fully turned up and doesn’t know how to turn down. The feeling of constant discomfort and pain means we change the way we function to try and reduce pain- we move less and do less and over time start to feel miserable. The connections of the brain that were wired together to protect us, snap, and rewire to support this new way of thinking which actually increases pain! The good news is- this rewiring can be snapped back- by controlling, distracting and suppressing the crazed messages that are being circulated around the central nervous system (CNS- made up of the brain and spinal cord) we can dampen the pain that is felt. Getting effective pain management is possible, it just isn’t achieved how we thought it was 50 years ago!

  1. Make the most of your medicines

A common misbelief is that persistent pain will be cured with pain reliever medications. Opioid analgesics such as codeine, oxycodone and morphine, are some of the strongest pain relieving medications available to us. These medicines work by blocking the messages of pain before they reach the pain centre in the brain. This changes our experience of the pain but does not do anything to remove the cause of these crazed messages. The truth is, at best, opioid medication will relieve pain by 30-50% regardless of the dose that is taken or how long you have been taking them.  New science has taught us that increasing doses of opioids can actually increase pain by causing a problem known as ‘Hyperalgesia’.  For this purpose, opioid use should be regularly reviewed every 6 months.  Additionally, using opioids for a long time affects our bones, our hormones and our immunity which can result in frequent infections, osteoporosis, and even early menopause.

Anti-inflammatory medications are useful for treating acute ‘flare-ups’ of chronic pain. Flare-ups can last from a few days to a few weeks and anti-inflammatories should be used as part of an action plan to gain control of this pain as soon as possible. Anti-inflammatories are not effective for treating chronic pain and are not safe for long-term use.

The most important things to remember about pain relieving medicines in persistent pain is a) They will not remove your pain completely

b) Using them alone, without an action plan and other non-drug management options, will not give you effective pain management and

c) What worked well for someone you know may not be effective, or may even cause harm, for you.

  1. Tool up

Persistent pain may be associated with many different conditions for example osteoarthritis, back pain, chronic headaches, period pain or sciatica. For each of these conditions a SPECIFIC, INDIVIDUALISED, TARGETED PLAN which involves appropriate traditional and alternative therapies are required. This ensures you have all the tools in the toolbox available to you to manage your persistent pain on a day to day basis and reduce the frequency, duration and severity of the flare-ups experienced.

TENs machines, topical anti-inflammatory creams, capsaicin creams, vitamin supplements, hot and/or cold packs, dietary considerations and weight management are some therapeutic tools that can be used, in combination with your pain relieving medicines to achieve a synergistic approach to controlling your persistent pain.  You should consult your doctor or PainWISE trained pharmacist to identify which tools you’re missing from your toolbox and which ones are best to be added.

  1. Move

When movement and physical activity is painful, the notion to stop and rest is intuitive. Frequently, the movement is avoided because we’re scared it will make pain worse. Unfortunately, this fear-avoidance behaviour results in reduced activity, deconditioning of the muscles, postural changes and loss of muscle support for joints and the spine. This is downward spiral which leads to increase pain.

It all comes back to the wiring! We need to snap those connections that are creating a sensitive CNS, and put them back together to improve the pain experience. The best way to stop this downward spiral is to get moving. If you can’t move, watch people moving! Go and sit in a park and watch football training, people running around the river, in a shopping centre watching people push trollies. Get your mind used to the idea of movement.

Pacing is a term often used in the management of chronic pain. Pacing means introducing a little bit of movement at a time and building it up slowly depending on the response to that movement. If you haven’t moved for 3 months, we’re not going to ask you to run a marathon!  Physical activity while experiencing persistent pain is hard and often requires careful planning with a physical therapist who understands chronic pain to ensure the fear of movement is addressed and managed appropriately

 

  1. Individualise your approach

Your pain is different to the pain felt by anyone else. While the symptoms may be similar, the factors that affect your pain experience are different.  Some factors that may influence your pain experience include the location of the pain, your emotions and psychological state, your memories of pain, your expectations and beliefs of pain, your age, sex and social and cultural influencesYou are unique and your management plan should be too. Good evidence says that when you have a support team, including doctors, pharmacists, physiotherapist, psychologists, dieticians and other healthcare professionals, who all understand your pain experience you will achieve a better pain outcome than someone trying to go it alone.  Although 80% of people who are experiencing persistent pain miss out on effective treatment- you don’t have to be one of those people! Get a team that works with you to achieve the goals you set and modify the pain you’re experiencing.

 

At Ascot Vale Pharmacywe have 3 PainWISE trained pharmacists who understand the complex nature of persistent pain. Following a pain assessment to make sure that we are the right people to help you with your pain, we offer your first action planning, one-on-one support session as a bulk-billed consultation. Let us help you find your support network and put together your tool box so you are well equipped to make GOOD THERAPEUTIC DECISIONSwhen it comes to managing your pain.



gorgeousautumn
8 months ago

Another gorgeous autumn morning in Melbourne today. Remember to be grateful for the things you have and always listen to your body. If you find you need a bit of 'me' time today, head outside on your lunch break. You'll be surprised what a little sun, warmth and fresh air can do to your day đź”…



Blog
8 months ago