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Archive for the ‘Heart Disease’ Category

Celebrate the “Great American Smokeout” by having your workplace go “Smoke-free”

With over 4000 hazardous chemical components in secondhand smoke, it isn’t a surprise that the World Health Organization (WHO) found that secondhand smoke exposure is a major cause of lung cancer, coronary heart disease and cardiac death among non-smokers. Furthermore, WHO found that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke and that ventilation systems and designated smoking rooms do not provide effective protection to the public and company workers.  The International Labour Organization found that each year 200,000 workers die because of exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace.

In recent years, many companies have seen the health and financial benefits of becoming a smoke-free workplace. As healthcare costs soar and as insurance policies charge higher rates to cover smokers, there has been a great benefit to businesses to change their policies regarding tobacco. Numerous studies have found a decline in hospital admissions for heart attacks. Among restaurant workers, there is a documented 26% decrease in respiratory symptoms. When smoke free workplace policies are implemented, there has been a 4% decrease in the number of smokers and a significant decrease in smoking among individuals who continue to smoke, according to the British Medical Journal. This decrease not only benefits the individual health of the workers, but saves on overall healthcare costs among those that participate in the company insurance plan.

Some of the most prevalent criticisms of tobacco free policies are that they will impact the companies “bottom line”. In reality, studies have found the opposite. Studies have found that when companies embrace smoke free policies they experience an increase in employee productivity, reduced sickness and reduced injuries. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that if all US workplaces were smoke free, it would save $280 million in medical costs in the first 7 years.

On November 16, we recognized the “Great American Smokeout”. This year, make a bold move and ensure that your work site is tobacco free. At Lebanon Family Health Services we are working with companies to implement tobacco free policies that include a research based tobacco cessation class for employees called Freedom From Smoking© and/or a “fax-to-quit” program. Services are free and are available at your work site. For more information, call Holly at 273-6741 ext. 310.

New Jersey man pays attention to family history, and lives to tell about it

By American Heart Association News

Sammy Rabin doesn’t like to brag but, until he learned he needed triple bypass surgery, he’d considered himself “the poster child for good health.”

He’d been exercising regularly for 30 years, ate a vegetarian diet and ran marathons.

“I did everything I could to stay healthy,” said Rabin, 65, the director of operations for a travel company in Fairfield, New Jersey. “I had to, because I had genetics working against me.”

Rabin’s father, Jack, died of a heart attack when he was 68. His brother, Arthur, died from one when he was only 46.

Sammy Rabin with his father, Jack, who died of a heart attack at 68. (Photo courtesy of Sammy Rabin)

But Rabin had always felt fit and strong and so he wasn’t concerned when he felt a mild pain in his chest in 2013 while training for the Philadelphia Marathon.

“I thought I’d pulled a muscle, even when it hurt for three days straight,” he said.

But on the fourth day, when the pain started radiating down his arm, he realized it wasn’t something to toy with.

He called his cardiologist to describe his symptoms and, before he’d even finished, the doctor stopped him mid-sentence and said he wanted Rabin in his office the very next morning.

A stress test, heart scan and angiogram revealed serious blockages in three of Rabin’s coronary arteries. The doctor said the situation was so serious, he wanted to do bypass surgery that night.

But Rabin put the brakes on that notion.

“I wanted some other opinions,” he said.

He talked to five other cardiologists, and four of them recommended surgery.

The fifth? He suggested stents, but with the caveat that, if Rabin went that route, he’d never be able to run like he had before.

“I decided to have the surgery,” he said.

Giovanni Campanile, M.D., Rabin’s cardiologist, said it’s rare for someone like him to have such severe coronary blockages.

“I told Sammy that if he didn’t live the kind of healthy lifestyle he did, he might have had a heart attack 10 years earlier,” said Campanile, director of Ornish Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey.

The bypass surgery went well and Rabin was soon walking the hospital corridors. Released after only five days, he was jogging slowly within three and a half weeks.

Sammy Rabin and his wife, Debra, at a resort two months after his heart surgery. His chest scar is visible. (Photo courtesy of Sammy Rabin)

But the recovery wasn’t without its bumps. Several weeks after surgery he had a bout of pericarditis, an inflammation of the fluid-filled sac called the pericardium that surrounds the heart. An anti-inflammatory cleared up the condition and he hasn’t had a relapse.

According to Campanile, at least once a year and for the foreseeable future, Rabin will undergo testing to measure blood flow through his coronary arteries. And, if he continues living his healthy lifestyle, his long-term prognosis is excellent.

Still, Campanile cautioned, when it comes to heart health, Rabin’s story highlights the importance of looking beyond the numbers, such as cholesterol and blood pressure, and taking your family history into account.

“Because both his father and brother died of heart attacks, Sammy knew to see a doctor when he was having those chest pains,” said Campanile. “That probably saved his life.”

Two years to the day following his surgery, Rabin ran the 2015 New York City Marathon. While his time of 5 hours, 10 minutes, 6 seconds was his slowest ever and well off his personal best of 3:36:43, he no longer keeps his eye on the clock.

He has bigger things on his mind.

“That marathon was the most meaningful and rewarding one ever for me,” he said. “After crossing the finish line, I had tears mixing in with my sweat. I felt blessed to be running at all.”

Sammy Rabin in 2015, as he neared the finish line of the New York City Marathon. (Photo courtesy of Sammy Rabin)

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