Understanding the Symptoms of Asthma in Your Child

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that can lead to frightening symptoms and emergency trips to your Denver hospital. This condition is very common among children living in the United States, affecting an estimated 7.1 million individuals under the age of 18, according to the American Lung Association. Of these, 4.1 million suffered from an asthma attack just in the year 2009. During an asthma attack, the airways leading to the lungs become narrowed due to inflammation and mucous production, obstructing the passage of air. This is not only frightening for a child, but can also lead to serious complications and even death if left unmanaged.

Is your child suffering from asthma? In most cases, allergenic triggers or various environmental factors such as dust mites, pollens, cigarette smoke and chilly air are responsible for causing an asthma attack. Exercise, strong emotion, or respiratory infections, such as the flu, are also known to cause asthma exacerbations. Although your child’s breathing may appear normal between attacks, you may notice the following symptoms when asthmatic triggers are present:

  • Shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing that can wake the child at night.
  • Gasping for air or having difficulty breathing normally.
  • A higher respiratory rate than normal.
  • Dark bags under the eyes and chronic fatigue.
  • Chest tightness and sucking in of the chest and neck when trying to breathe.
  • Life-threatening airway obstruction and breathing problems.

“The optimal care for asthma requires a combination of cares from the patient, family and physician, and involves both preventing episodes (and flare-ups) and then treatment should an exacerbation occur”, explains Dr. Martin Alswang, Swedish Pediatrician.

Although there is no known cure for asthma, an experienced pediatrician can help your child manage the condition effectively. Treatment often involves avoiding triggers, carefully monitoring any developing symptoms and taking prescribed medications as needed.

To find an experienced pediatrician in the Denver area, contact the healthcare professionals at Swedish Medical Center. We understand that children require special attention, treatment and care. Call us at (303) 788-5000 for more information about our comprehensive services for children of all ages.

A Look at Your Diet with Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is a condition that affects how your body makes or utilizes insulin, a hormone that enables glucose (sugar) to enter the cells of the body. When left unmanaged, diabetes can result in dangerously high blood glucose levels that can adversely affect almost every organ and tissue in the body. If you have recently been diagnosed with diabetes, you can manage your condition more effectively and avoid emergency visits to your Denver hospital by carefully monitoring your diet. Read on for some tips for eating well and staying healthy with diabetes.

Choose the right foods. Although eating a varied and nutrient-rich diet is important for everyone, it becomes even more crucial for those diagnosed with diabetes. Focus on making fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy products the key parts of your daily meals. Avoid processed foods, as they are often high in sodium and fats. Not to mention, processed foods high in fat and sodium can increase your risk of other health conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Plan your meals around their glycemic index. The glycemic index (GI) of a carbohydrate-rich food describes its ability to raise your blood glucose levels. A food with a high glycemic index, for example, will raise your blood glucose much higher than a low or medium GI food. As a habit, plan your meals around foods that are low or medium GI rated, such as lean meats, non-starchy vegetables and whole grains. These will help to keep your blood sugar stable and lower your risk of diabetes-related complications.

Snack wisely. Snacking between meals can be a great way to keep your blood sugar stable and curb your hunger throughout the day—but only if you choose your snacks wisely. Instead of high-sugar or high-fat options, consider leaner foods with protein such as celery sticks with peanut butter or a hardboiled egg. “Snacking is not a must and really depends on your weight loss goals. If you are going to snack, aim for 15-30 grams of carbohydrates per snack and include a protein.” Amy Vance, Registered Dietitian.

At Swedish Medical Center, we are proud to offer exceptional family medicine and primary care services. If you or a loved one is in need of assistance with diabetes management, let us help. Call us at (303) 788-5000 to find an experienced and knowledgeable physician in the Denver community.

When a Headache is more than a Headache

If you have ever suffered from the symptoms of a migraine headache, you may be well aware of their ability to completely disrupt your daily activities. Fortunately, these headaches occur only temporarily and can be reversed with adequate rest and treatment.

However, there are times when a headache is more than just an inconvenience. You may experience pain that can be described as the “worst headache of your life” and that is accompanied by other physical and sensory problems, such as weakness on one side of the body and vision changes. If this occurs, your head pain is not just a headache—it is one of the common symptoms of stroke and requires emergency medical treatment.

A stroke, or brain attack, occurs when a region of the brain is deprived of oxygenated blood due to the obstruction or hemorrhage of a cranial artery. When unable to receive the oxygen and nutrients in blood, brain tissue quickly begins to die. Without immediate treatment, this dangerous medical event can lead to permanent disability and even death. You can help yourself and your loved ones avoid the dangers of stroke by learning the stroke symptoms and seeking treatment quickly if symptoms arise. The signs occur very suddenly and often include:

  • Severe headache with no known cause.
  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the face and body.
  • Trouble speaking or understanding language.
  • Blurry vision in one or both eyes.
  • Loss of balance and coordination.

“Headaches described as the worst in a person’s life or head pain with sudden onset weakness or numbness can signal that a bleeding stroke it happening. It’s best to call 911 and get to a stroke center right away. A CT Scan is the best way for healthcare providers to determine if a bleeding stroke has occurred. Migraine headaches can mimic stroke also by causing stroke-like symptoms. Whenever a person experiences sudden onset stroke symptoms, with or without a headache, get to the hospital right away and let our experienced team get to the bottom of what is happening,” says Michelle Whaley, CNS, Swedish Stroke Coordinator.

According to the National Stroke Association, these events are the fourth leading cause of death and the number one cause of long-term adult disability in the United States. Do not become a part of these statistics—speak with your doctor about your potential risk factors and take the necessary steps to improve your health today. If you are in need of a primary care physician or medical specialist in the Denver area, contact Swedish Medical Center at (303) 788-5000. Our medical facility offers comprehensive healthcare services to promote the continued health of our community.

A Father’s Day Miracle

Father’s Day is more than just a day to celebrate being a father for 75-year old David Smith.  He has five children, 16 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren who all make the day extra special for him. But this past Father’s Day, David didn’t receive the chance to attend the usual reunion with his family. Instead, he ended up spending the day with them at Swedish Medical Center.

“It was the day before Father’s Day. I was in the kitchen and David was in the garage. I heard something unusual and ran to go see if everything was alright. David was on the floor of the garage with blood all around him. He had hit his head on something. I rushed over to him and knew instantly he was having a stroke. I immediately dialed 9-1-1,” explains David’s wife, Mary Smith.

David was breathing but couldn’t speak; one of the signs of stroke. “I just knew it was a stroke, I was holding his hand and telling him to just stay with me,” says Mary. David was rushed to Swedish Medical Center where the stroke team was waiting for him. He was given a clot-busting medication within 27 minutes. “The stroke team reacted so fast when David arrived to the hospital. He wouldn’t be here without them!” explains Mary.

David woke up in the CCU and couldn’t remember much. He was told he’d have to be in the hospital for a couple of days then transfer to Swedish Acute Rehab to regain his strength. The care here has been great! I knew Swedish was a trauma center but I had no idea they had such an amazing stroke team,” says David. “I know it’s a miracle that I’m here today, that I can talk, walk and be with my family.”

His family calls him a “Father’s Day miracle.” This is the second time David has faced a medical emergency after suffering a heart attack 10 years ago. His wife says she believes it’s just not his time yet and that he’s meant to watch the three generations underneath him grow up and follow in his footsteps. “Our time together is so precious, he really has dodged the bullet twice but I honestly thank God and the team at Swedish for saving my husband’s life.”

Online Resources for Diabetes Management, Heart Attack and Your Overall Health

Learn more about diabetes management, heart attack and your overall health by visiting the resources below. For even more information about our recent blog topics, contact Swedish Medical Center by calling (303) 788-5000. Swedish Medical Center is an acute care hospital with 368 licensed beds and is located in the south metro Denver area in Englewood, CO, where we have been a proud member of the community for more than 100 years.

  • Healthy eating is essential for continued overall health and wellness. You can get some eating tips by reading this article from the CDC.
  • Do you have diabetes? If so, find some delicious snack recipes and ideas on the American Diabetes Association website.
  • There are many types of diabetes, including type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. Learn more about these by reading this article from WebMD.com.
  • If you do not already know the symptoms of heart attack, become more familiar with them by visiting the American Heart Association website.
  • This article from the American College of Emergency Physicians provides additional information regarding when you should consider seeking emergency medical treatment.

Fighting Cancer with Faith

“I can’t imagine not having my faith in a situation like this.”

At twenty-five years old, Stephanie Madsen thought she had her entire future planned out.  Newly married she wanted to move to a new city, buy a new house and start a family with her husband Matt. Life seemed to be perfect for Stephanie until one day her list of dreams quickly turned into a battle plan to fight cancer. “It was so tough, I felt like we had lost our freedom to plan our lives,” says Stephanie.

Earlier this year, Stephanie was diagnosed with large-cell neuroendocrine cancer of the cervix. “I had been trying to find out what was wrong with my body for almost a year and although I received bad news I was relieved to know what was finally wrong with me,” she explains. Not only would Stephanie have to endure a very long and aggressive chemotherapy/radiation treatment but she would also have to have a hysterectomy. “Hearing I had cancer was tough but hearing that I was going to have a hysterectomy at twenty-five was even tougher,” she explains. “We hope surrogacy can be an option for us one day but we’ve talked about adoption before and now that it’s a choice we might have to make, we’ve accepted it,” she says.

One wouldn’t expect to be embraced by smiles, hugs or laughs when speaking with Stephanie but she says her faith is what keeps her going. “I can’t imagine not having my faith in a situation like this. God is my rock and I know when I’m weak, he’ll be my strength. I just had to take my diagnosis and turn it into something positive. I thought ok, my sole purpose right now is to fight this cancer and be as strong of a solider as I can be. I’m a Christian and God will get me through this!”

Stephanie is currently under-going both chemotherapy and radiation treatments at Rocky Mountain Gynecologic Oncology here at Swedish Medical Center. “I love it here. The nurses and doctors really get to know you and develop a true friendship with you. For me during this experience to come into treatment and know who you’re going to be seeing and know that they truly care is so comforting,” says Stephanie. “Our patients are like family to us. We want every patient to feel as comfortable as possible as they go through treatment. It’s our duty to make sure that happens,” explains Dr. Mary Jo Schmitz.

If she’s not making new friends with other patients she’s updating the latest entry on her blog; her way to inspire others battling cancer (www.derailingmydiagnosis.com). “Cancer for me was really taboo. I never knew the details of it. I wanted people to lose the taboo with cancer so my blog is a way to open that door. I like to write about things like losing my hair! I was a hairstylist and I knew I was going to lose my hair so I shaved it off before it could fall out. It was so liberating and helped me take back control of this cancer,” says Stephanie.

After treatment Stephanie plans on vacationing with her husband in Hawaii! Her one piece of advice to others in treatment; “stay strong, it’s a battle and it’s gonna get hard but you can handle it, you will soon learn just how strong you are!”

To continue following Stephanie’s journey check out her blog at www.derailingmydiagnosis.com

A Patient’s Comfort Through Technology

“It was reassuring to have the doctor right there with me even though I was hundreds of miles away!”

Gunnison resident Chris Tanning is well aware of the warning signs related to stroke. She suffered a minor one two years ago. Chris was rushed to Gunnison Valley Hospital where she was treated and released. “It was a very freighting time for me. After being released from the hospital I needed additional testing with a specialist so I had to drive to Denver to receive it. Thankfully, I fully recovered,” explains Chris.

Since the time of Chris’s stroke, Gunnison Valley Hospital has implemented new technology into their facility which would make it easier for stroke patients to correspond with specialists in Denver. Little did Chris know that she would be one of the first patients to use this technology called the RP-Lite. RP-Lite is a remote device that allows physicians to perform comprehensive real-time consults with hospital patients.  “The RP-Lite technology has allowed us to assess the patient quickly, which leads to better patient outcomes. This technology allows for 72% of patients who are assessed with the RP-Lite to be treated and stay in their communities. We strive every day to take the best care of all our stroke patients, regardless of the distance,” says Dr. Chris Fanale, HealthONE Stroke and CO-DOC Medical Director.

Earlier this year Chris experienced pre-stroke symptoms and again was rushed to the hospital. “I had arm numbness, vertigo, a migraine, severe chills; I thought I was having another stroke,” says Chris. This time around her experience in the ER was much different than from two years ago. Within minutes she had a quick series of tests and lab work, a high-field short-bore MRI and MRA and was face-to-face with stroke specialist Dr. Judd Jensen from Swedish Medical Center in Denver. “I was very impressed with the technology! For the doctor to be able to interact with me in real-time was very impressive!”

“The greatest advantage is having the ability to talk to the patient and their family members and ask questions that can determine an accurate diagnosis in order for them to receive rapid treatment,” says Dr. Judd Jensen, Swedish Stroke Neurologist.

Fortunately, Chris was not having a stroke. “I had instant reassurance it wasn’t a stroke!” says Chris. Her symptoms were caused by something less onerous and she was relieved to have her diagnosis so quickly. “This technology is amazing. It was an emotional relief to have that interaction with the doctor and to hear I was going to be just fine!”

Diabetes Overview

Diabetes is a chronic illness that affects how your cells use glucose (sugar). Men and women with poorly managed diabetes typically suffer from higher than normal blood glucose levels, which are caused by the inability of their cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream. By watching this video, you’ll learn more about diabetes and how this condition affects the body’s ability to function. The video’s host also discusses the complications associated with the disease and the importance of proper management.

With help from a dedicated medical professional, diabetes can be managed successfully. If you would like to learn more about staying healthy with diabetes, contact the healthcare experts of Swedish Medical Center by calling (303) 788-5000.  At our Denver area hospital, our experienced physicians strive to provide the highest quality of medical care in the area.

Common Sports Injury: The ACL

The anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, connects the femur to the top of the tibia and is essential for knee stabilization. Because of its active role in knee movement, this ligament is easily injured or torn, especially in sports that involve rapid pivoting or twisting from side to side.

This video is a brief introduction to ACL injury. It provides more information about the major causes of injuries and describes who may be at a higher risk for ACL tears. Watch to learn more.

At Swedish Medical Center, the entire sixth floor of our Denver hospital is dedicated to caring for our orthopedic patients. At Swedish, our team of orthopedic surgeons specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of high-energy musculoskeletal injuries, fractures from multiple traumas, intra-articular fractures and complex pelvic and acetabular fractures. Our experienced staff strives to bring each of our patients back to their accustomed levels of mobility and activity. Call us today at (303) 788-5000 to learn more about our comprehensive healthcare services.

Who is a Good Candidate for Bariatric Surgery?

“Nothing will change your life for the better than the decision to have weight loss surgery.”—Dr. Richard Tillquist, Swedish Bariatric Surgeon

Morbid obesity is a dangerous medical condition and can be extremely difficult to treat with diet and exercise alone. More than one-third of the adults living in the United States today are overweight or obese. For many of these men and women, bariatric surgery performed at a medical hospital can be an excellent first step on the road to a healthier, more active life.

Although bariatric surgery can be an excellent option for many men and women suffering from morbid obesity, these procedures are not for everyone. A good candidate for bariatric surgery:

  • Is 18 years of age or older.
  • Has a body mass index of 30 or greater or is 60 to 100 pounds over his or her ideal weight.
  • Suffers from one or more chronic weight-related health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol or sleep apnea.
  • Struggles to lose weight with healthy lifestyle changes involving diet and exercise.
  • Has decided with his or her physicians that bariatric surgery is the right treatment option.
  • Is aware of the risks and benefits associated with the chosen procedure and is well informed about the surgery’s effects.
  • Is committed to making lifelong changes in diet, physical activity and other lifestyle choices.

“Weight loss surgery has been shown to be the most effective way to improve multiple medical conditions associated with obesity including type II diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and gastro esophageal reflux,” says Dr. Tillquist. Deciding to undergo bariatric surgery is a serious decision that can help change your life for the better. The physicians at Swedish Medical Center’s Denver Bariatric Surgery Center work hard to offer the most advanced bariatric surgical techniques, including laparoscopic minimally-invasive procedures. We are also proud to have our center recognized as a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery due to our excellent outcomes and clear commitment to high-quality patient care.

If you are interested in learning more about whether or not bariatric weight loss surgery is a good option for you, please contact Swedish Medical Center of Denver today at (303) 788-5000.