Heart Patients must Prepare for Emergencies

Researchers have noticed that number of heart attacks increases during earthquakes and other natural disasters.

One reason may be that during a stressful episode, your heart’s need for oxygen increases but the body is unable to increase the blood flow through the diseased heart (ischemia). Stress hormones also make arteries narrow, which may cause a break in the fatty material built up in the blood vessel.

Do you have enough Heart Medications  in the event of an emergency?

Do you have accessibility to all your medications? What medications are critical to not run out of? Having a supply of prescription medications on hand in the event of a disaster or weather emergency could mean the difference between survival or being another number added to the death toll. Most prescriptions are dispensed as 30-day units through retail pharmacies with refills available after 75% of use, leaving a monthly medication reserve of 7 days. For patients to acquire 14- to 30-day disaster medication reserves, health professionals understand there are many barriers including restrictive insurance benefits, patients’ resistance to mail order, and higher co payments. Physicians, pharmacists, and insurers also vary widely in their preparedness planning. It can be difficult to get a physician or a pharmacist in the event of disasters.

Getting more than a 30 day supply, in the U.S., can be difficult if not impossible.Even if you have a sympathetic doctor that you can talk into writing an extended prescription, getting around the insurance company’s “three month limit” policy can be an insurmountable roadblock. So how do you stock up on prescription medical supplies? How do you get enough on hand to see you through an extended emergency, one that could last for days or weeks?

Be prepared to pay for the extra medications entirely out of your own pocket. This could get expensive rather quickly, so consider what medications you absolutely cannot be without such as pressure medications, diuretics, insulin, blood thinners. You can ask your physician for samples to prepare for emergencies.

Diabetes Medications Emergency Preparedness

Everyone needs to be prepared for emergencies–but a person with diabetes has additional issues to consider. When establishing your disaster preparation kit, include a seven-day supply of some diabetic foods and a seven-day supply of medications and testing equipment. Blood sugar levels should be carefully monitored during an emergency because the added stress may cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate more than normal.

People with diabetes should tell rescue workers and/or shelter staff that they have diabetes. They should also drink plenty of clean water, watch what they eat, and stick with the regular testing and medication schedule.

For more information, visit http://www.ready.gov/seniors

Living with an LVAD emergency preparedness 

Battery life becomes an issue without electricity. Does your local EMS know that you have a LVAD and will need electricity to stay alive? If you do not have a generator to keep your batteries charged in the event of a power outage, call your local Emergency Medicine Station and let them know you may be in need of help.

You can safely plug your battery charger into a generator to charge batteries, and you can safely plug in your power base unit to maintain the internal battery to a generator. DO NOT hook up to the power base unit that is being powered by a generator. Generators experience power surges, and you cannot be hooked up to the pbu. STAY ON BATTERY POWER throughout the power outage. If you do not have a means to charge batteries, contact your local EMS, explain your medical need for power, and take your battery charger to the EMS to charge batteries. If you cannot drive, ask them to send transportation for you or to supply you with a generator. If you have any questions or problems, please call your LVAD Coordinator on call at your hospital center.

  Another thing to do in the event of power outage…If you cannot keep your power base unit plugged into a generator, please remove the battery from the bottom of the PBU. There are instructions for doing this in your HeartMate II manual. If you do not remove the internal battery, the low battery alarm will continue to squeal at you! Also, this may damage the battery. Again, if you have questions, call your LVAD Coordinator on call.

Nutrition in emergencies

If you are sensitive to sodium and have to cope with no electricity do you have access to foods that won’t put you in congestive heart failure. Many pre packaged ready to eat meals are very high in sodium. This can add additional stress to your cardiovascular system, which may be already stressed due to the emergency. Will others know if you have special nutritional needs?

Hydration:     Liquids are important to your health do you have access to clean water?