According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease causes one in four deaths in the United States every year – that’s about 610,000 people who die every year because of heart disease.
Coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease in the United States, is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of arteries that supply blood to the heart. Too much buildup and blood cannot flow effectively. When plaque buildup limits blood flow to the heart too much, a heart attack can happen. For many people, the first sign they have coronary artery disease is a heart attack.
It is important to know the early warning signs of a heart attack. Major symptoms include chest pain or discomfort, upper body pain, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats. If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack – call 911 right away. The chances of surviving a heart attack are greatest when emergency treatment begins immediately.
Whether a heart attack happens or not, over time coronary artery disease can weaken the heart muscle. This can lead to heart failure, a condition in which the heart becomes too weak to pump blood effectively throughout the body. About 5.7 million adults in the United States are living with heart failure, and the majority of cases are chronic, or long-term. The only cure is heart transplant; however, heart failure can be managed.
Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the quality and length of life for those living with heart failure. Treatment usually involves taking medications as well as lifestyle changes. Many people living with heart disease can benefit from chronic disease management and home telemonitoring programs.
Chronic disease management programs assist those with chronic conditions like heart failure to best manage their conditions through education, lifestyle changes, and medication management. This helps enable those dealing with heart failure to self-manage their condition and stay out of the hospital.
Home telemonitoring helps patients manage chronic conditions through daily monitoring, so interventions can be made before a small change becomes a big problem. For patients managing chronic diseases like heart failure, a change in condition can mean the difference between an ER visit or hospital stay versus remaining as healthy as possible at home. Telemonitoring patients use monitors in their homes to track vital signs and symptoms. Each day that information is analyzed and appropriate healthcare professionals are alerted if a change in medication or treatment is needed.
While it is important to properly manage heart disease once it has occurred, there are many things you can do to protect yourself and reduce your risk.
Do you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes? Keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level, lowering your blood pressure, and managing your diabetes help to reduce your risk of heart disease and heart attack. Taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle today can pay off through a healthier tomorrow free of heart disease.
Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Control your cholesterol
Maintain a healthy blood pressure
Take your medications
Eat a healthy diet
Maintain a healthy weight
Get at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity every week
Limit your alcohol consumption
For more information on heart health, heart disease, heart attack, and symptoms to watch for, visit the American Heart Association’s website at heart.org.
SSM Health at Home nurses are certified by the National Association of Home Care in Chronic Disease Management. We also offer home telemonitoring for patients with certain diagnoses who meet certain criteria. For more information, please contact us online or call 1-800-924-2273.
If you or someone you know is experiencing the holidays for the first time without a loved one, it is important to remember it is going to be challenging. Even for those whose loss happened long ago, the holidays can bring grief back to the surface.
Because SSM Health at Home recognizes the holidays can be difficult for those who are grieving, we hold “Grief Through the Holidays” support groups in many of the communities we serve. These groups are offered at no cost and are open to adults. Find a group near you.
Early admission to hospice can improve quality of life
Many people at end-of-life wish to stay at home surrounded by the people and things they love. Hospice can help make that wish a reality, providing physical, emotional and spiritual care to both patients and their families.
However many potentially eligible patients never have the opportunity to experience this special type of care either because they do not seek hospice services at all or because they do not seek them soon enough.
Early admission can help patients maintain their best quality of life and help them remain at home. Learn more.
Like many of our employees, patients and neighbors, SSM Health at Home was affected by the recent flooding. Due to the rising water, our Reedsburg office was closed to the public from August 30 to September 4, 2018.
When an event like this occurs the well-being of our patients becomes our focus. We have emergency preparedness plans in place to make sure our patients continue to receive the care they need. Patients in affected areas were identified and contact was made to ensure their safety. Staff continued to make home visits and deliveries to everyone they were physically able to get to, navigating road closures and detours as needed.
Our team did incredible work to provide assistance to our patients and each other. We would like to thank everyone involved for the resilience and compassion demonstrated across our organization.
The images below were taken outside our Reedsburg location (164 Second Street) in the days following the flooding.
SAFE at Home
Preventing falls is much more effective than treating their results. The goal of SAFE at Home is to help people live falls free at home. Learn more.
Get your tickets
Spirit of Life 2018
Mark your calendars for December 6, 2018, and plan to join us at the Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells for Spirit of Life. All proceeds from the event support the SSM Health Hospice House Resident Fund which provides assistance with room and board fees for patients staying at the House. Buy your tickets now!
Heels for Meals
On August 23 guests joined us at the Discovery Center in Madison for an elegant evening of dining, dancing and donating in support of our Meals On Wheels program.
The event, hosted by NBC15’s John Stofflet and Amy Pflugshaupt raised more than $21,000 which will provide about 2,600 meals.
SSM Health at Home’s hospice helps keep patients at home
Thinking about hospice can be overwhelming for patients and their families. However the sooner an eligible patient is admitted to hospice, the sooner our care team can begin treating symptoms, managing pain and providing support.
Most hospice patients prefer to remain at home surrounded by the people and things they love. SSM Health at Home helps make that happen, helping patients achieve the best quality of life possible for however long they are in our care.
Sharing Helen’s stories
SSM Health at Home provides so much more than physical care to our patients and their families. It is an honor and privilege to be allowed to join an individual’s end of life journey. Each person’s journey is as unique as they, and so our care is tailored to each and every patient. For hospice patient Helen, sharing stories was a way for her to connect with caregivers and our staff.
At SSM Health at Home we are proud to offer our patients a selection of home-based health services designed to keep people at home. From skilled nursing to telehealth monitoring, chronic disease management to post-surgical care, our home health services are here to help you heal at home.
Our dedicated team coordinates with physicians, nurses and specialists to create individual care plans for patients that help treat and improve chronic conditions, support those recovering from an injury or illness, or assist people healing from surgery.
SSM Health at Home provides support to patients of all ages, providing compassionate care that travels from our home to yours.
Don’t let sleep apnea keep you awake at night
A good night’s sleep is important not just for our mood, but for our overall health. Sleep apnea is a relatively common condition that impacts not only a person’s quality of sleep, but left untreated, can have detrimental effects on their health.
Doing all the good we can with the help of our donors
Every day, through every gift that is given, our donors help our Foundation do all the good we can.
Last fall, a donor wanted to give her Green Bay Packers tickets to a patient in our care. Due to her generosity, we were able to grant a wish for a hospice patient and his family. When we asked the donor why she had chosen to do this, she quoted John Wesley.
“Do all the good you can, by all means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
We later learned the patient’s family chose to share the sentiment with all who knew him by printing the quote on his funeral program.
Through your gift to our Foundation you can help us to continue to do all the good we can, by all the means we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, for all the people we can, as long as ever we can.
Our donors impact the lives of every senior who receives a noon meal through our Meals On Wheels program, to every family who spends final days together at our Hospice House, and to each hospice patient who plays cards with a fellow veteran volunteer through our We Honor Veterans program. Every day, through every gift that is given, a life is touched by the generosity of our donors.
Please join us in doing all the good we can, by all the means we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, for all the people we can, as long as ever we can. Donate today.
Save the Date – Heels for Meals
Save the date on August 23, 2018, and join us for the inaugural Heels for Meals event in support of our Meals On Wheels program.
Held at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery in downtown Madison, the evening will feature a four-course meal, music, dancing and much more.
Wendy has been with SSM Health At Home for almost 28 years and has held various positions within the company. In her current role as Scheduler at our Madison East office, Wendy meets challenges head-on and solving problems quickly to ensure her co-workers have a positive day. Wendy brings a cheerful and positive attitude to the office and is always willing to go above and beyond for everyone. She is a team player and a great asset to SSM Health At Home.
What do you enjoy most about working for SSM Health at Home?
My co-workers. I work with a great group of people who are always willing to work together and help each other out. I also enjoy helping our patients over the phone when they call.
What does employee of the month mean to you?
To me, it means a lot. It means my co-workers feel I do my job the best I can, that I listen to them and work with them to make everyone’s job easier. That they know I’m a team player. That I’m here to help in any way I can.
When you’re not at SSM health at home, what do you enjoy doing?
Spending time with my family and my ten grandkids. Reading, photography, crafts, gardening, going to zoos or anything with animals, and going places I haven’t been to and seeing new things.
When we lose a loved one each of us embarks on our own personal journey through grief. Although we never stop missing the person we have lost, over time we learn how to live without our loved one physically in our life. Certain days, however, can elicit stronger emotions than others. Special days like birthdays, anniversaries, and of course holidays can make us feel our grief more acutely.
Making it through the holidays without a loved one can be difficult, but there are some things you can do to manage your grief more effectively.
Accept the holidays will be painful. Just acknowledging it is going to be difficult can provide you with the strength to cope.
Prepare and plan ahead. Think about what you are and are not capable of this year. It is okay to lower your expectations and skip certain activities or traditions that are too painful. Consider starting a new tradition, perhaps something to honor your loved one. Whatever you decide, do what feels best for you.
Ask for support. While family and friends can be a great resource, there is value in talking to others who have experienced a loss similar to yours. Grief support groups offer you the opportunity to connect with people who are standing in your shoes, talk about your feelings, and hear stories about how others are handling their grief.
Because SSM Health at Home recognizes the holidays can be difficult for those who are grieving, we hold “Grief Through the Holidays” support groups in many of the communities we serve. These groups are offered at no cost and are open to adults.
Grief Through the Holidays Single session group focused on dealing with grief through the holiday season. Group is intended for adults. No registration required.
Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospitalization in people 65+. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control more than a quarter of older adults fall each year. Of those falls, one in five causes a serious injury. While many falls don’t cause injuries, falling once doubles your chances of falling again, and fear of falling may lead people to cut down on everyday activities. However, a decrease in activity can mean an increase in weakness which actually increases future risk.
The best thing you can do to prevent injury is to avoid falling in the first place. There are many steps you can take to help prevent falls.
Talk to your doctor. Less than half of people who fall every year tell their doctor. Being open about falls or the fear of falling with your health care team gives them the opportunity to evaluate your risk and recommend specific things you can do to decrease it.
Mind your medications. Some medications, or combinations of medications, can have side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness making falls more likely. Make sure each of your providers know about all the medicines you take including prescriptions, over-the-counter, vitamins and supplements. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medications for side effects or possible interactions.
Get some exercise. Lower body weakness and balance problems both contribute to falls. Work on increasing your strength through activities like walking and water aerobics. In addition, choose activities that can help improve your balance such as tai chi, chair yoga, ballroom dancing and exercise classes that include balance specific exercises.
Keep your vision sharp. Have yearly eye exams and wear glasses or contact lenses with your most up-to-date prescription. Being able to see clearly will help you get around much more safely.
Eliminate hazards at home. Because half of all falls happen at home, a home safety check can go a long way in reducing falls. Fixing potential issues such as tripping hazards, clutter and poor lighting can all help lower the chance of falling. Installing grab bars in the bathroom or railings on stairs is also a great way to decrease your risk.
Don’t be that one out of four who falls this year. Take steps today to reduce your fall risk so you can stay safe, secure and independent tomorrow.
Because preventing falls is much more effective than treating the results of them, SSM Health at Home, in partnership with United Way of Dane County, developed the SAFE at Home program. SAFE at Home provides home safety assessments and medication reviews for Dane County residents ages 60+.
SAFE at Home participants receive:
Basic in-home safety assessment
Medication review by a pharmacist
Safety aids including a pill box and nightlight
Home safety recommendations
Information about community resources
Six months of follow-up by a medical social worker
The program is designed to help participants identify risk factors and advise them on ways to change or modify their environment to decrease fall risk. Our goal is to reduce falls, helping people live safely and independently in their own homes for as long as possible.
Kari is the Branch Assistant for the Columbus office and has worked for SSM Health at Home for 13 years. Kari is always willing to help out and is incredibly reliable and dependable. She provides amazing customer service to patients, families and staff. She is always a pleasant and positive person. When challenges arise during the day Kari steps up to the task at hand whether its meeting staff in the field to exchange equipment, delivering products in an emergency, or other duties that come up.
Gina has been with SSM Health At Home for almost four years and now serves as the Meals On Wheel Volunteer Coordinator. Gina is incredibly reliable, dependable, caring and thoughtful. Gina’s role has been one of the most challenging jobs in the program because she has to recruit and constantly maintain a daily schedule of volunteers. She is always willing to bring a meal out to a recipient or deliver more than one route. Gina takes the initiative to learn everyone’s duties in the department in order to help when someone is out of the office. The Meals On Wheels program has many moving parts, and Gina has learned to be incredibly flexible and ready to help whenever needed. Gina has been described as a great representation of our Meals On Wheels program and keeps our volunteers and clients happy.