And the Beat Goes On

Happy New Year! After a night of thinking about my life and where it’s gone in the last almost 71 years, I remembered some events from a long, long time ago. For example, when I was a young woman in my late teens, I used to go to the clubs in New York City and dance the night away. I had a drink or two – never more – but I was there to dance… and that’s I did. I danced until I felt my whole body pulsing. Pulsing. That’s the word we used, but it has a very different meaning for me today over 50 years later.

High blood pressure can damage your kidneys. Maybe, like me, you’ve been ordered to take your blood pressure daily even if you are taking medication for hypertension. But what is this pulse/min reading I see at the bottom of the blood pressure monitor face?

Back to the beginning. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pulse, this is the way we used the word in relation to our dancing:

“rhythmical beating, vibrating, or sounding”

The same dictionary tells us that this is the way my blood pressure monitor uses the word:

“a: the regular expansion of an artery caused by the ejection of blood into the arterial system by the contractions of the heart

b: the palpable beat resulting from such pulse as detected in a superficial artery; also: the number of individual beats in a specified time period (such as one minute)

I knew that. I’ll bet that you did, too; but I keep forgetting why that’s important.

Verywell, a conglomeration of information from doctors, dieticians, and personal trainers, at https://www.verywell.com/pulse-pressure-1763964 answers that question for us:

“Sometimes pulse pressure does provide important information. There’s research showing that pulse pressure can be valuable when looking at a patient’s overall risk profile. Several studies have identified that high pulse pressure:

• Causes more artery damage compared to high blood pressure with normal pulse pressure

• Indicates elevated stress on a part of the heart called the left ventricle

• Is affected differently by different high blood pressure medicines

So if you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may consider it when designing your overall treatment plan.”

Now I understand why my physician’s nurse gets that look on her face after taking my pulse sometimes. Since I have no heart problems, although Chronic Kidney Disease can easily lead to them, my hypertension medication may have to be adjusted or the ones I’m taking replaced with others that won’t raise my pulse level.

But what about the possibility of “elevated stress on a part of the heart called the left ventricle?” And why only the left ventricle? Wait a minute; what is a ventricle anyway?

I have definitely forgotten more than I ever knew to begin with! Enough grousing.

Let’s see how precise a definition of ventricle we can get. The Oxford Dictionary at https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/ventricle offers the following definitions:

“A hollow part or cavity in an organ…..

Each of the two main chambers of the heart, left and right….

Each of the four connected fluid-filled cavities in the centre of the brain.”

It’s pretty obvious we need the second definition.

But why is the left ventricle the only one that may experience “elevated stress”? Healthline (The same organization that included SlowItDownCKD in the top six nephrology blogs of 2016 & 2017.) at https://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/left-ventricle explains:

“The left ventricle is the thickest of the heart’s chambers and is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to tissues all over the body….. Various conditions may affect the left ventricle and interfere with its proper functioning. The most common is left ventricular hypertrophy, which causes enlargement and hardening of the muscle tissue that makes up the wall of the left ventricle, usually as a result of uncontrolled high blood pressure.”

So here I am, taking three blood pressure medications, and it’s possible to still have uncontrolled high blood pressure?

Apparently so, the American Heart Association at https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/MakeChangesThatMatter/Managing-High-Blood-Pressure-Medications_UCM_303246_Article.jsp has some interesting information about this.

“Because different drugs do different things in the body, you may need more than one medication to properly manage your blood pressure…. Different people can respond very differently to medications. Everyone has to go through a trial period to find out which medications work best with the fewest side effects. Give yourself a chance to adjust to a drug. It may take several weeks, but the results will usually be worth it. If you don’t feel well after taking a medication, let your doctor know so he/she can adjust your treatment.”

Considering that Chronic Kidney Disease causes high blood pressure as well as high blood pressure causing CKD, I intend to keep doing just that.

We’re not finished with the pulse just yet. I wanted to know the basic connection between blood pressure and pulse and I wanted a simple explanation of it.

But first we’ll need a definition of artery. No problem, that’s what the glossary in What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease is for.

“Arteries: Vessels that carry blood from the heart.”

Let’s get to the heart (That’s funny. Get it? Heart) of the matter now.

HealthCentral at https://www.healthcentral.com/article/pulse-rate-and-high-blood-pressure-defining-the-connection had exactly what I asked for.

“Because high blood pressure causes tension and complicates cardiovascular normal activity, it may cause stress with your pulse activity. Meaning, the arteries experience resistance against the flow of the blood. The pulse rate calculates the number of times the heart beats per minute. The rate measurements indicate the heart rate, heart rhythm and the strength of your pulse. Therefore, high blood pressure slows down normal blood flow causing the arteries to demonstrate difficulty with expanding.”

Got it! Now, if I can only remember it….

Here’s hoping this New Year is your best year yet – as I say to my grown children every year. Wishing you health first of all, then love from your friends and family, and finally kindness to share with others.

Thank you for being my readers and thank you for helping to make this an award winning blog not once or twice, but three times.

Until next week,
Keep living your life!

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This Former Hippy Wannabe Likes HIPAA

Each day, I post a tidbit about, or relating to, Chronic Kidney Disease on SlowItDownCKD’s Facebook page. This is the quote from Renal and Urology News that I posted just a short while ago:

“Patients with stage 3 and 4 chronic kidney disease (CKD) who were managed by nephrology in addition to primary care experienced greater monitoring for progression and complications, according to a new study.”

My primary care physician is the one who caught my CKD in the first place and is very careful about monitoring its progress. My nephrologist is pleased with that and feels he only needs to see me once a year. The two of them work together well.

From the comments on that post, I realized this is not usual. One of my readers suggested it had to do with HIPPA, so I decided to look into that.

The California Department of Health Care Services (Weird, I know, but I liked their simple explanation.) at http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/formsandpubs/laws/hipaa/Pages/1.00WhatisHIPAA.aspx defined HIPPA and its purposes in the following way:

“HIPAA is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that was passed by Congress in 1996. HIPAA does the following:

• Provides the ability to transfer and continue health insurance coverage for millions of American workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs;
• Reduces health care fraud and abuse;
• Mandates industry-wide standards for health care information on electronic billing and other processes; and
• Requires the protection and confidential handling of protected health information”

Got it. Let’s take a look at its last purpose. There is an infogram from HealthIT.gov at https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/YourHealthInformationYourRights_Infographic-Web.pdf  which greatly clarifies the issue. On item on this infogram caught my eye:

“You hold the key to your health information and can send or have it sent to anyone you want. Only send your health information to someone you trust.”

I always send mine to one of my daughters and Bear… and my other doctors if they are not part of the hospital system most of my doctors belong to.

I stumbled across National Conference of State Legislatures at http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/hipaa-a-state-related-overview.aspx and learned more than I even knew existed about HIPAA. Take a look if you’d like more information. I finally tore myself away from the site to get back to writing the blog after following links for about an hour. It was fascinating, but not germane to today’s blog.

Okay, so sharing. In order to share the information from one doctor that my other doctors may not have, I simply fill out an Authorization to Release Medical Information form. A copy of this is kept in the originating doctor’s files. By the way, it is legal for the originating doctor to charge $.75/page for each page sent, but none of my doctors have ever done so.

I know, I know. What is this about doctors being part of the hospital system? What hospital system? When I first looked for a new physician since the one I had been using was so far away (Over the usual half-an-hour-to-get-anywhere-in-Arizona rule), I saw that my new PCP’s practice was affiliated with the local hospital and thought nothing of it.

Then Electronic Health Records came into widespread use at this hospital. Boom! Any doctor associated with that hospital – and that’s all but two of my myriad doctors – instantly had access to my health records. Wow, no more requesting hard copies of my health records from each doctor, making copies for all my other doctors, and then hand delivering or mailing them. No wonder I’m getting lazy; life is so much easier.

Back to HealthIt.gov for more about EHR. This time at https://www.healthit.gov/buzz-blog/electronic-health-and-medical-records/emr-vs-ehr-difference/:

“With fully functional EHRs, all members of the team have ready access to the latest information allowing for more coordinated, patient-centered care. With EHRs:

• The information gathered by the primary care provider tells the emergency department clinician about the patient’s life threatening allergy, so that care can be adjusted appropriately, even if the patient is unconscious.
• A patient can log on to his own record and see the trend of the lab results over the last year, which can help motivate him to take his medications and keep up with the lifestyle changes that have improved the numbers.
• The lab results run last week are already in the record to tell the specialist what she needs to know without running duplicate tests.
• The clinician’s notes from the patient’s hospital stay can help inform the discharge instructions and follow-up care and enable the patient to move from one care setting to another more smoothly.”

Did you notice the part about what a patient can do? With my patient portal, I can check my labs, ask questions, schedule an appointment, obtain information about medications, and spot trends in my labs. Lazy? Let’s make that even lazier. No more appointments for trivial questions, no more leaving phone messages, no more being on hold for too long. I find my care is quicker, more accessible to me, and – believe it or not – more easily understood since I am a visual, rather than an audial, person.

Kudos to American Association of Kidney Patients for postponing their National Patient Meeting in St. Petersburg from last weekend to this coming spring. The entire state of Florida was declared in a state of emergency by the governor due to the possible impact of Hurricane Irma. The very next day, AAKP acted to postpone placing the safety of its members over any monetary considerations. If I wasn’t proud to be a member before (and I was), I certainly am now.

Aha! That gives me five found days to separate The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 1 and The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 2 each into two separate books with indexes. I never was happy with the formatting of those two. I plan to reward myself after this project. How, you ask. By writing a book of short stories. I surmise that will be out next year sometime. Meanwhile, there’s always Portal in Time, a time travel romance. Geesh! Sometimes I wonder at all my plans.

Until next week,
Keep living your life!

Shocked

When I checked my phone messages this morning, I saw one from the wife of someone I have known and loved my whole life. That shook me. The message was from his wife, not him. I couldn’t bring myself to listen to it until after I’d had a cup of coffee and fed Shiloh, our dog.

It was bad news. He was in the hospital on life support. I was shocked. Immediately, I felt nausea and a band started to tighten around my head. I noticed my voice was rough as I tried to process what his wife was telling me.

She did an exemplary job of explaining what had happened step by step and including what will happen at the hospital now. After reassuring myself that she had friends around her to support her while she’s emergency central, so to speak, we hung up…and I tried to go through my usual early morning routines.

I knew it wasn’t working when I took the wash out of washing machine, put it back in the washing machine, and started the empty dryer. I knew it wasn’t working when I fed the dog I’d just fed.

So I retreated to the library to start the daily ‘kidney work’: checking email, texts, and LinkedIn for messages from readers; posting on Instagram and Facebook; and perusing Twitter for articles that might interest you. I was having trouble concentrating. Maybe thinking about what I’d write in today’s blog would be more productive.

It was obvious, wasn’t it? I’d write about what shock does to your body and to your kidneys.

In befuddedly casting around on the internet for information, I found this at http://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/7-warning-signs-acute-stress-reaction-emotional-shock.htm.

By Harley Therapy January 23, 2014 Anxiety & stress, Counselling  

…. While it’s true you aren’t in “medical shock” – an acute circulatory condition where blood pressure falls so severely that multiple organ failure can occur – you are still in a medically recognised kind of shock.

Psychological shock, a form of psychological trauma, is the body’s very real stress response to experiencing or witnessing an overwhelming and/or frightening event….

You might feel as if your brain has turned to mush, or you have ‘brain fog’….

Life might even feel unreal, as if you are disconnected, floating slightly outside of your body and watching yourself carry on doing things. This is called dissociation….

When your brain decides that there is ‘danger’ around, it triggers the primal ‘fight, flight, or flight’ response. Back when we were ‘cave people’ these responses where helpful, but nowadays the overload of adrenaline they involve just leave you with a racing heartbeat, muscle tension, headaches, stomach upset, and random aches and pains….

Sleep is often affected by emotional shock. Insomnia is common. Even if you are sleeping more than ever, you are unlikely to get quality sleep but might suffer disturbed sleep, full of stress dreams. It’s common to develop ‘night panic attacks’ where you wake up suddenly with a racing heart and severe anxiety….

I could identify with this. It seemed I had to correct the spelling of every other word today. My husband was trying to pin down dates for a California trip and I was responding with dates for a New York trip. The doorbell rang, so I answered the phone. You get the idea. I’ve already mentioned the particular headache and the nausea. But what about my kidneys? What was happening to them?

The Medical Dictionary at http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/shock+organs, defines shock as “a sudden disturbance of mental equilibrium.” That is a pretty accurate description of what happened when I returned that phone call this morning.

The same site goes on to explain that shock “is associated with a dangerously low blood pressure.” And blood pressure, of course is:

pressure that is exerted by the blood upon the walls of the blood vessels and especially arteries and that varies with the muscular efficiency of the heart, the blood volume and viscosity, the age and health of the individual, and the state of the vascular wall

Thank you to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/blood%20pressure for that definition.

Notice the word “arteries.” Arteries also run into the kidneys. The following is from What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease.

Your kidneys have about a million nephrons, which are those tiny structures that produce urine as part of the body’s waste removal process. Each of them has a glomerulus or network of capillaries. This is where the blood from the renal artery is filtered.

In other words, when you’re in shock – even if it’s emotional shock – the pressure of your blood can be dangerously low. But low blood pressure may also lead to Acute Kidney Injury (AKI). Uh-oh, I remember writing about that in The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 2.

….Chronic Kidney Disease is a risk factor for acute kidney injury, acute kidney injury is a risk factor for the development of Chronic Kidney Disease, and both acute kidney injury and Chronic Kidney Disease are risk factors for cardiovascular disease…. Not surprisingly, the risk factors for AKI {Once again, that’s acute kidney injury.} are the same as those for CKD… except for one peculiar circumstance. Having CKD itself can raise the risk of AKI 10 times. Whoa! If you’re Black, of an advanced age {Hey!}, or have diabetes, you already know you’re at risk for CKD, or are the one out of nine in our country that has it. Once you’ve developed CKD, you’ve just raised the risk for AKI 10 times.

Let me make sure you (and I) understand that this is the worst case scenario. A few thoughts about how cardiovascular disease and the kidneys interact before I get on the phone to check on my beloved friend again. This is from a study that was included in The Book of Blogs: Moderate Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, Part 1.

“The brain and kidney are both organs that are affected by the cardiovascular systems,” said the study’s lead author, Adam Davey, associate professor of public health in Temple’s College of Health Professions and Social Work. “They are both affected by things like blood pressure and hypertension, so it is natural to expect that changes in one organ are going to be linked with changes in another.”

You can find the article at http://www.EurekAlert!.org/pub_releases/2012-11/tu-dkf111312.php

Until next week,
Keep living your life!