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Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? The National Alliance on Mental Illness uses this month to raise awareness about mental health - fighting stigmas, providing support and educating the public.

Mental Health can be difficult to talk about and lonely to deal with. This year’s theme - “Together for mental health” addresses just that, meaning together we fight the negative feelings and misconceptions, and together we support those who need help.

Over 18% of Americans suffer from mental health issues like depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Mental Health Month brings to light the realities of living with these disorders and strategies for attaining mental health and wellness.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health issue, now is the time to talk about it. A few tips

  • Be patient – mental health issues can be complicated 
  • Begin with a conversation
  • Seek or offer resources 

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, reach out to your primary care provider to rule out physical conditions and help with referrals for therapists, support groups or medication. If you need a primary care provider, visit mountnittany.org.

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Living an active lifestyle offers many health benefits:

  • Reduces your risk of health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some types of cancer
  • Manages your weight
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Prevents or eases stress, depression, and back problems
  • Boosts your energy

A good rule of thumb is to be active for 30 minutes on most days. Aim for a total of 150 or more minutes a week. Not sure you can fit one 30-minute block of exercise time into your day? Split it up into shorter 10- and 15-minute blocks. Do this two to three times a day. You'll still get all of the benefits of exercise.

Not sure where to start? This circuit routine does not require any special equipment and can be done right in your home.

  • Lunges: Have legs split one foot in front the other behind you. Then lower your hips down toward the ground. Stand back up and repeat on same leg for desired reps and then switch your forward foot.
  • Side bends: this movement should come from the waist. Hands on your hips and bend to one side and then the other side. Make sure you aren't leaning too far forward or backward. This movement is small with not a lot of range of motion
  • Wall pushups: Start at an angle off the wall and bend your elbows slowly as you lower toward the wall. Then push yourself up and straighten elbows again.

If you’re looking for support to kick start your fitness journey, Mount Nittany Health Fit for Play certified personal trainers will work with you to create a program tailored to your goals. Call 814.861.8122 to schedule your session today. 

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Physical therapy

Spring is here, and for many it’s a chance to get out and be active for the first time in months. Whether you love it or just want to get it out of the way, gardening and other related yard work is one of the first times people get up and moving with the change of seasons. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), it is important that people participating in gardening and yard work take a health conscious approach to both prevent injuries and reap the health rewards of working in the great outdoors.

Treat it like a workout
Gardening and yard work can be strenuous and it’s very easy to do too much, especially for mature adults and those who’ve been inactive for long periods of time. To best prevent injuries, people should view gardening and yard work as a workout. Just stop for a moment and think about what you are doing. Digging, weeding, raking, mulching and planting are all activities that use many of the most commonly injured muscles and joints including the lower back, neck, shoulders and knees.

Tips to minimize risks of injury

  • Warm up before you begin. Take a short walk, and move your shoulders, neck and trunk to loosen up.
  • Don’t overdo it. Listen to your body and always pay attention to how you are feeling. If something starts to ache, stop and try stretching it out, or better yet, switch to a different task. When in doubt, stop the activity and take a break.
  • Start small and build. Complete small projects first and work up to the big stuff.
  • Use proper technique. To avoid common back injuries, bend at the knees and lift with your legs to move heavy objects or pull weeds. Kneel on one knee at a time and keep one foot on the ground when possible for stability.
  • Use the right tools. Use wheelbarrows and carts to move around large heavy objects. Use pads for your knees if you have to kneel.
  • Mix it up. Avoid long periods of the same activity or take frequent breaks to avoid cramping, stiffness and overuse.
  • Stay hydrated. Get plenty of fluids (preferably water).
  • Cool down and stretch out. End your gardening session with a short walk and/or some light stretching.

Take a smart approach and get out there and get to work. The exercise is great for your body and it’s very rewarding to step back and look at your accomplishments. Just remember to take a reasonable pace, drink plenty of water and take breaks when needed.

 

Did you know that stroke is the third leading cause of death for American women? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 5 American women will have a stroke, and nearly 60 percent will die from the attack.

A stroke happens when a clot or broken blood vessel cuts off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain, or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. In either case, strokes cause brain damage and abilities such as speech and movement, and memory can be lost.

For every minute without treatment for a stroke, almost two million brain cells die. For every hour without treatment, the brain loses almost the same number of cells as are lost through three and a half years of aging. When it comes to a stroke, every second counts, and that’s why it’s important to know and recognize the signs.

Signs of stroke for both men and women

Stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within three hours of the first symptoms. By knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, you can take quick action. Fast treatment can lessen the brain damage that stroke can cause. Call 9-1-1 right away if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Signs of stroke for women

Although men and women who have strokes often feel similar symptoms, women can also experience general weakness, disorientation and confusion or memory problems, fatigue, nausea, or vomiting. These signs of stroke in women can be subtle enough to be missed or brushed off. That can lead to delays in getting time-sensitive, lifesaving treatments, so it’s important not to ignore these symptoms. The key is to zero in on any symptom that is sudden and has no other explanation.

Why women are at higher risk for stroke

Several factors contribute to why women are more likely to have a stroke:

  • Pregnancy –The risk of stroke in pregnant women is 21 per 100,000, with the highest stroke risk during the third trimester and post-partum.
  • Preeclampsia – This is high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy. If you have any history of hypertension, talk to your healthcare provider about taking low-dose aspirin starting in the second trimester.
  • Birth control pills – Birth control pills have become much safer over time, but women who are already at risk of stroke should get screened for high blood pressure before the pill is prescribed.
  • Migraines with aura – Migraine with aura is associated with ischemic stroke in younger women, particularly if they smoke or use oral contraceptives.
  • Atrial fibrillation – This increases stroke risk among women over age 75 by 20 percent.

How can women decrease their risk of stroke?

In addition to practicing healthy habits such as exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep, here are measures all women can take to decrease their risk of stroke:

  • If pregnant, discuss with their healthcare provider low-dose aspirin guidelines starting in the second trimester to lower the risk of preeclampsia.

  • Get their blood pressure checked before taking birth control pills and monitor every six months.

  • Quit smoking, especially if they have migraines with aura.

  • Get screened for atrial fibrillation if over age 75.

Mount Nittany Medical Center’s Stroke Program is dedicated to optimizing the quality of life through coordinated, evidence-based best practice for stroke risk reduction and stroke interventions. Last year, Mount Nittany Medical Center cared for more than 450 patients who suffered a stroke. The Medical Center is an accredited Primary Stroke Center through The Joint Commission and received the American Heart Association & American Stroke Association 2020 Get with the Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award.

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs lifesaving blood. Many patients who have major surgeries need a blood transfusion, and blood transfusions are also used for patients who have serious injuries from car crashes or natural disasters, and people with illnesses that cause anemia, like leukemia or kidney disease.

Since March 2020, challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a 10 percent overall decline in the number of people donating blood and a 62 percent decrease in blood drives at schools and colleges, according to the American Red Cross. Ongoing blood drive cancellations due to illness, weather-related closures, and staffing shortages have also contributed to the drop in donations. Because of all these factors, the nation—and Pennsylvania is no exception—is experiencing a severe blood shortage.

Approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the United States, and blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help provide vital medical treatments. Each red blood cell transfusion requires three units of blood, and a car accident victim can require up to 100 units.

There is no substitute for human blood — all transfusions use blood from a donor, and the inventory of donated blood must be constantly replenished. Donated platelets can be stored for use for as long as five days. Donated red blood cells can be stored for use for up to 42 days.

Although all blood types are needed to help end the blood crisis and ensure the supply is available when it’s needed, these are the blood types that are most urgently needed:

Type O positive - the most common blood type. 38 percent of the population has O-positive blood.

Type O negative - the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. Because only 7 percent of people in the United States are type O negative, this type is always in great demand and often in short supply.

Platelets - the clotting portion of blood, which must be transfused within five days of donation. Nearly half of all platelet donations are given to patients undergoing cancer treatments.

Blood donors are needed to help ease the strain on the nation’s blood supply and save lives. Donating blood is quick, safe, and easy—and a single donation can help save up to three lives. If you're able, consider consistently donating blood throughout the year.

In Pennsylvania, most people can donate blood every 56 days, up to six times a year, if they are at least 16 years old, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds, and are in good health and feeling well. Additional eligibility criteria apply, including certain medications, medical conditions, travel to certain countries, and personal history.

To learn more and make an appointment to donate blood, contact the American Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania Region or find a blood drive near you.

Mount Nittany Health includes Mount Nittany Physician Group, with more than 170 healthcare providers across more than 30 specialties in 17 convenient locations. 

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a month that brings awareness to families and the community working together to prevent child abuse. Through collaboration and support services, child abuse can be prevented.

In Centre County we’re fortunate to have the following child abuse prevention and identification resources:

  • YMCA Stewards of Children. This program has trained nearly 8,000 Centre County adults to be stewards of children in our community. Visit ymcaofcentrecounty.org for more information.
  • The Mount Nittany Health Children’s Advocacy Center of Centre County. The center is a child-focused space that facilitates a compassionate child-focused approach to the prevention, identification, intervention, and treatment of child abuse.
  • ChildLine. If you suspect child abuse, call the ChildLine at 1.800.932.0313. Calls are anonymous and will be answered 24/7.

Mount Nittany Health advocates for the health and well-being of all children. This April during National Child Abuse Awareness month and every month, we are proud to partner with our community to promote prevention and awareness. Visit mountnittany.org for more information.

Many children look forward to jellybeans, chocolate bunnies and other treats in their Easter baskets on Easter morning. Sweet treats are great in moderation, but what can the Easter bunny do to help reduce the amount of sugar kids receive this year?

Mount Nittany Health pediatricians have a few tips to help him:

  • Replace sugary sweets with healthier options – chocolate covered strawberries or yogurt-covered raisins are a few fun alternatives.
  • Add small gifts like coloring books and crayons, bubbles, or games
  • Plan an Easter morning scavenger hunt to get kids moving

Mount Nittany Health knows your child’s health is your top priority. Our skilled pediatricians are conveniently located at offices throughout our region including Bellefonte, Boalsburg, State College, Mifflin County, Penns Valley, and Philipsburg. Visit mountnittany.org/pediatrics to find a pediatrician near you.

814.231.7000

To our team, you're more than just a number. We see you. And we're committed to you. Our experienced providers are here and ready to get you the care you need.