Important Information About Hypertension

According to the American Heart Association, hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure.  It is defined an adult as blood pressure that is greater than or equal to 140 mm systolic and 90 mm diastolic. Hypertension directly increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

When the heart beats, it generates a force exerted against artery walls, known as blood pressure. Blood pressure is measured by testing the force needed to stop blood from flowing through the arteries, away from the heart. When a blood pressure test is performed, a test result will yield two numbers. The first number is known as the systolic number. It measures the pressure when the heart beats. The second number, known as the diastolic number, measures the pressure between heart beats, when the heart is at rest. A normal blood pressure for a healthy adult is 120/80.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a serious condition that affects approximately one quarter of all Americans. Hypertension is commonly known as the “silent killer” because of the lack of any noticeable symptoms.  If not treated, hypertension can lead to many more serious conditions that can ultimately prove fatal.

Diagnosing and treating hypertension is very important because it can lead to a number of other diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

Everyone is susceptible to developing hypertension, but some groups are at greater risk than others. Those most at risk are:

                • People with a history of hypertension in their family

  • Overweight people

                • African Americans

                • Elderly people

You are also at a higher risk to develop hypertension if you:

                • Smoke

                • Drink alcohol frequently

                • Are pregnant or on birth control pills

                • On a high-salt diet

                • Are an inactive person

If you have hypertension, there are ways of controlling your condition. The following lifestyle changes can be added to reduce your risk:

  • Exercise Regularly – Aerobic exercise for 15 to 45 minutes, three to four times a week, every week is recommended by doctors. Swimming, walking, jogging, riding a bike, and dancing are all excellent forms of aerobic exercise.
  • Eat healthy – Avoid foods with high salt and high fat content. Doctors suggest eating more fruit, vegetables, chicken, fish, pasta, and low-fat dairy products.           
  • Control Alcohol – Limit alcohol consumption. 
  • Stop Smoking – If you are serious about controlling hypertension, you must stop smoking.

In some more serious cases, doctors will prescribe medication to help control hypertension. The best prevention is to see a doctor and have a blood pressure check-up at least once a year.

Before beginning a diet or exercise program, consult your physician.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Learn The Facts About Diabetes

Diabetes is a treatable, but not curable, disease in which the body either develops a resistance to insulin or cannot successfully use all the foods it takes in because of a defect in the production of insulin. Insulin is a hormone created in the pancreas, an organ found near the stomach. It acts as a key to allowing glucose into our cells. Glucose is created during digestion and is needed as a fuel for the body to perform many activities.

Scientists are not certain why diabetes affects some people and not others, but there is strong evidence that heredity, diet, activity level, and ethnicity play an important role.

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, and non-traumatic amputations, and the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. It is essential to be under the regular care of a physician when diagnosed with the disease, as diabetics have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke and are also prone to infection and slow-healing wounds.

What Are The Risk Factors For Diabetes?

  • You are at risk of developing diabetes if you:
  • Are overweight
  • Are over the age of 45
  • Have poor dietary habits
  • Do not exercise regularly
  • Are a woman who has experienced gestational diabetes
  • Are a woman who has delivered a baby weighing more than nine pounds at birth
  • Are of African American decent
  • Are of Hispanic decent
  • Have a family history of diabetes

What Are The Types Of Diabetes?

Type I
Type I is also called insulin dependent diabetes because the body does not produce insulin in sufficient quantities, if at all. In this form of diabetes, people are required to take insulin every day by injection. It is seen mostly in children and young adults, though not exclusively. It affects 10% of the diabetic population.

Type II
This more common form of the disease affects the greatest number of people.  Almost 90% of people with diabetes have this type. Type II has also been called the non-insulin dependent form of the disease because it can often, though not always, be managed without taking insulin. Many people do well with oral medications, strict diets, exercise, and close monitoring by a physician.

Gestational Diabetes
This form of the disease can develop during pregnancy. It will often go away after the pregnancy is completed. It is believed to be caused by the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy. It is a risk factor for developing the disease later in life.

 Some common symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Constant thirst
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Constant hunger
  • Tingling or numbness in the feet or hands   
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent feeling of fatigue

It is important to discuss any symptoms with your physician as soon as they are noticed. The above lists some warning signs and they all need not be present. Further testing is necessary to make an accurate diagnosis.

Diabetes isn’t necessarily painful, and that is why it is often not diagnosed until major symptoms develop.

Depending on the type of diabetes and its severity, treatment plans will vary and must be tailored to the individual’s specific needs. Medications include daily injections of insulin and/or oral agents, strict diet, regular glucose monitoring, an exercise plan, and regular medical examinations.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Learn More About Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a necessary component of the cells in the body. It is found in large quantities in nerve tissue, the brain, skin, adrenal glands, and liver. Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance found in the bloodstream along with the circulating fats called lipids. Cholesterol is not able to dissolve in blood and in order to be transported it must be united with a type of

Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is known as bad cholesterol when found in large quantities. It contains more cholesterol than protein and helps transport cholesterol to the cells. When the LDL level is high, excess cholesterol will accumulate in the blood vessels and lead to  complications.

High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is known as good cholesterol because it contains more protein than other cholesterol. This form of lipoprotein helps transport excess cholesterol away from the cells, therefore, it is better to have more HDL’s and fewer LDL’s in the bloodstream.

When there is too much cholesterol circulating in the blood, it leads to a disease called hypercholesterolemia. This elevated level of cholesterol in the blood will eventually lead to the formation of fatty deposits of plaque on the lining of blood vessels. When this happens, blood vessels become narrowed and hardened by these deposits. This condition is called atherosclerosis and it can lead to the formation of blood clots in these now narrowed blood vessels. When blood vessels become narrowed, it makes it difficult for blood to reach parts of the body and can eventually cause serious damage.  It is believed that atherosclerosis causes more deaths due to heart attacks than any other disease.

A diet high in cholesterol can lead to stroke, heart disease, atherosclerosis, and possibly death. Many of the great tasting foods that we eat every day contain high amounts of cholesterol. Foods that are high in cholesterol include red meat, egg yolks, whole milk, cheese, ice cream, butter, fried foods, cake, and cookies. Foods that are prepared with high amounts of saturated fats such as palm or coconut oil also lead to high cholesterol levels.

Foods that are low in cholesterol and high in fiber are a smarter choice. These include fresh leafy vegetables, peas, dried beans, and whole grains. A healthy diet is one that contains less red meat and more fish and poultry. Taking the skin off poultry makes it even healthier to eat.

Other factors that can lead to high cholesterol include smoking, obesity, and a family history of heart disease.

The American Heart Association says that when the level of cholesterol rises above 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood, there is a significant increase in the risk of having a heart attack. High cholesterol can vary from person to person but is generally defined as above 240 mg/dl.

The body has the ability to produce approximately 1,000 milligrams of cholesterol daily from the carbohydrates and fats that we eat. Therefore, it is not necessary to eat foods that are high in cholesterol in order to meet the body’s needs. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that you limit your daily intake of cholesterol to no more than 300 milligrams per day. The daily diet should contain no more than 30% fat and only a third of this fat should be saturated.

Exercise and a healthy diet are two ways that you can lower your cholesterol. It is important to always consult a physician before starting any diet or exercise plan. Stress management is also very helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. In many cases where cholesterol levels are not being controlled, it may be necessary for a physician to prescribe medication to help lower it.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Information About Breast Cancer

All cancers gets their name from the part of the body where the abnormal cells begin to develop. Breast cancer occurs when cells become abnormal and divide without order in the breast tissue of women, and in rare cases, men.

While it is not known what causes breast cancer, certain risk factors have been linked to the disease. A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of getting a particular type of cancer. Some risk factors can be controlled (e.g., smoking) and others (e.g.,age, family history) cannot be changed. Being a woman is the main risk factor for breast cancer however, other factors such as environmental exposure and diet can also play a part.

The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump in the breast that is painless, hard, and has irregular edges.

Some other signs or symptoms of breast cancer include:

•              swelling of a part of the breast

•              skin irritation or dimpling of the skin on the breast

•              nipple pain or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin

•              a nipple discharge that is other than breast milk

•              a lump in the underarm area

At this time, there is no known way to prevent breast cancer. However, some preventative measures such as reducing controllable risk factors and implementing early detection methods can increase your survival rate in the event of a cancer diagnoses. Reducing your incidence of risk where possible and following guidelines for self-examination and early detection are the best course of preventative action. Early detection improves the likelihood of successful treatment and saves thousands of lives each year. Each month, it is advised that women perform breast self-exams. Early detection screening exams often find cancers before they start to cause symptoms, while they are small and still confined to the breast. Between the ages of 20 and 39, women should have a clinical breast exam every year if they are in a high-risk group or every three years if they are not. From the age of 40, women should have a mammogram screening every year.

If breast cancer is suspected in a patient, a biopsy of the cells from the breast is performed, removing cells so that they can be examined. Cancer treatment includes surgical procedures such as lumpectomy, mastectomy, and non-surgical therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. If you have been given a cancer diagnosis, don’t be afraid to seek the second opinion of a breast cancer specialist for more information and treatment options.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a chronic disease that most often affects areas of the body that are in or around joints. A joint is the area where bones meet: an example of this would be the knee. Bones are covered at their ends by a substance known as cartilage, and it is this cartilage that keeps the bones from rubbing directly against one another. The entire joint is enclosed by the synovium, a tissue that produces the synovial fluid that keeps the joint lubricated. Muscles and tendons act to support the joint and also to make it move. When a part of the joint is not working correctly it can cause the joint to change shape or alignment, which can be very painful.

Arthritis is a disease that affects one in every seven people and can occur at any age. . It is a disease that can severely limit the ability to move. It can have a slow onset, or come on quickly.  Once it starts, it usually lasts your entire life. There are many ways that its symptoms can be reduced so that people who have it can remain active.

Arthritis is often characterized by pain, stiffness, swelling, and problems with movement in one or more joints. Any of these symptoms that persist for 10 days or more should be discussed with your doctor. It is important to remember that symptoms may be constant or they may come and go. Symptoms can occur during physical activity or they can occur while at rest.

Because there are so many different types of arthritis, it is important for your doctor to perform a complete history and physical in order to make a correct diagnosis. Often the exam will include a blood test, a urine analysis, a joint fluid specimen, and an x-ray of the involved joints. To help your doctor, you should be able to tell him or her when you first noticed the pain, how long you have had it, when it hurts, where the pain is located, whether you have noticed any swelling, if you had any trauma to the area, and whether there is a family history of this type of problem.

The two main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

Osteoarthritis   This is the most common form of arthritis. It is also called degenerative arthritis. It usually affects weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees, and back, but it can affect almost any joint. It causes pain and stiffness and is due to degeneration of the bone and cartilage. Men and women are usually affected at the same rate of occurrence.

Rheumatoid Arthritis   This is an inflammatory form of arthritis that is caused by the body’s own immune system acting on the joints. The joint lining is affected first and then spreads to the cartilage and bone. It occurs in women more often than in men, and it affects the same joints on both sides of the body.

Depending on the type of arthritis and its severity, treatment plans will vary and must be customized to the individual’s specific needs. Medications that act on the pain and the swelling include those sold over the counter as well as prescriptions. Exercise programs and physical therapy have helped many people relieve symptoms and increase joint mobility. The use of ice or heat over the joint may help as well. Excess weight can also cause a person’s arthritis to worsen. In all instances it is important to discuss symptoms and all treatment plans with your doctor.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Learn The Facts About Asthma

Asthma is a disease that affects the airway’s ability to deliver oxygen to the lungs. It causes periodic attacks of wheezing and difficulty breathing. An asthma attack occurs when the airways become inflamed in response to a trigger. Triggers are factors that bring about an asthma attack. There are many types of triggers including:

• Allergens – Such as pollen, mold, animal fur, dust, dust mites, and cockroaches

• Viral Infections – Viral infections of the respiratory tract often act as major triggers, since they irritate the airways, nose, throat, and sinuses

• Irritants – Examples of irritants are perfumes, household cleaners, cooking fumes, painting supplies, coal, chalk, and sudden changes in the weather

• Tobacco Smoke and Wood Smoke – No one should smoke in the home of an asthmatic

• Exercise – It is estimated that 85% of all asthmatics encounter wheezing after exercise

• Sensitivity to Medications – Up to 20% of all adult asthmatics experience an attack as a result of allergic reactions to medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and sulfites

During an asthma attack, the walls of the airways become inflamed and the mucous membrane covering the walls becomes swollen with fluid. Sticky mucus fills the remaining space, making it difficult to breathe. Because air cannot flow in and out of the lungs freely, a whistling or wheezing sound may be heard. During severe attacks, wheezing may stop because there is too little air moving to make any noise.

The key to diagnosing asthma is recognition of the recurrent symptoms of cough, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, or wheezing. If these symptoms are present, a physician will perform a pulmonary function test, also known as a spirometry. The test measures the “peak flow,” which is the speed of air blown out of the lungs. Asthmatics have trouble blowing air out, and therefore have lower peak flow measurements. A normal range for peak flow is based on the person’s age, weight, and sex. Daily measurement of the peak flow at home is essential to effectively manage asthma. Decreases in peak flow will alert the patient of the need for further treatment or an emergency medical visit to the doctor.

To treat asthma, the first step is to avoid the triggers that you are sensitive to whenever possible. Prescription medicines are usually needed to combat asthma. There are two main groups of asthma medicines: bronchodilators, which help stop asthma attacks after they have started and anti-inflammatories, which help prevent attacks from starting.

After a course of treatment is prescribed, it is very important to check regularly with your doctor to make sure that the medicines are helping you.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a fairly common disorder, estimated to affect 75% of the world’s population. It is caused by a lack of an enzyme produced in the small intestine called lactase. This enzyme helps the body to break down the sugar (lactose) found in milk and milk products so that it can be properly absorbed into the blood.

There are three types of lactose intolerance:

Primary lactose intolerance – this is the most common form of the condition. In this type of intolerance, the body starts off life with the full ability to digest lactose found in milk but as the body ages, this capability diminishes.

Secondary lactose intolerance – this occurs when the body’s ability to digest lactose is altered either due to surgery or as a side effect of an illness (Celiac disease, bacterial overgrowth, and Crohn’s Disease).

Congenital lactose intolerance – is the condition where babies are born with a diminished capacity to digest lactose.

The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be very uncomfortable. They include:
• Gas
• Bloating
• Diarrhea
• Abdominal cramps
• Nausea

Diagnosing lactose intolerance can be performed a few different ways. There is a Lactose intolerance test that involves drinking a liquid with a high level of lactose in it. After two hours blood samples are taken to see if there is an increase in the level of sugar in the blood. If there isn’t a significant change, this indicates that the body didn’t digest the lactose sufficiently. A hydrogen breath test can be performed ro monitor the level of hydrogen produced if lactose is digested properly. The more hydrogen produced indicates the less digestion that took place. The third test is a stool acidity test which is primarily used in patients who are unable to undergo the first two tests and it measures the amount of acid in the stool.

There are several types of foods that people who are lactose intolerant should avoid:
• Milk
• Ice Cream
• Yogurt
• Butter

Additionally, some other types of food that may contain dairy are: bread, cake, custard, chocolate, candy, instant soups and some sauces.

One of the ways to avoid the symptoms of lactose intolerance is to remove dairy and dairy containing products from the diet. There is lactase containing supplements that can be taken that may help with the digestion of lactose and also taking probiotics may be beneficial.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Kidney Stones

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Kidney stones (nephrolithiasis) are lumps of crystal made from substances found in urine. They typically build up along the inner surfaces of the kidney.  The size of a kidney stone can range from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball.  It is estimated, one in every twenty people will develop them at some point in their life.

Stones form when there is a decrease in the amount of urine produced, causing it to become highly concentrated and therefore allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together.  There are four major types of stones, they include:

  • Calcium stones
  • Uric acid stones
  • Struvite stones
  • Cystine stones

While dehydration is a major contributor to the formation of kidney stones, some people are more prone to developing them than others. People with certain medical conditions such as gout or digestive diseases, those with a family history of kidney stones, as well as people who are obese or consume a diet rich in protein, sodium and sugar are more susceptible.

Kidney stones often go undetected until they become loose and travel along the urinary tract.  When they move around the kidney or pass through the ureter, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Pain during urination
  • Pain along your side or back, below the ribs
  • Urine that is pink, red or brown in color
  • Pain in the lower abdomen or groin
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Frequent urination or urge to urinate
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cloudy or abnormal smelling urine
  • Fever and chills

If these symptoms present themselves and persist it is advised that you see a doctor immediately.  Your doctor may perform a series of tests that may include blood or urine tests, analysis of passed stones or abdominal x-rays to assess your condition. Depending on severity, treatment may include increasing your intake of water, pain medication or surgery.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Gallstones

Have you ever experienced sudden abdominal pain and wondered if it might be gallstones?

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Gallstones form in the gall bladder, located just under the liver, and may cause no signs or symptoms. However, if a gallstone lodges in a bile duct, it could cause a blockage. Gallstone pain may last several minutes to a few hours and symptoms may include:

  • Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen
  • Sudden and rapidly intensifying pain in the center of your abdomen, just below your breastbone
  • Back pain between your shoulder blades
  • Pain in your right shoulder

Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience any of these signs or symptoms. Seek immediate care if you are experiencing:

  • Abdominal pain so intense that you can’t sit still or find a comfortable position
  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes
  • High fever with chills

Laparoscopic surgery to remove the gallbladder, called a cholecystectomy, is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the United States and is the treatment of choice for gallstones that cause moderate to severe pain. Symptoms usually do not return after the gallbladder has been removed. In a small number of cases, surgery may be done to prevent complications of gallstones.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Understanding Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a language-based, learning disability that affects approximately 15% of the population living in the United States.  It is the most common learning disability in the country.

People who are dyslexic find it difficult to read because they are unable to properly identify speech sounds and learn how they relate to letters and words.  They often have difficulty with writing, math and comprehension as well.

Dyslexia is a lifelong disability that cannot be cured. However, an individual can overcome its many challenges when early intervention and specialized education approaches are applied.

The exact cause of dyslexia is unknown; however, the condition tends to run in families.  In addition to genetics, there are other factors attributed to dyslexia; they include:

  • Premature birth or a low birth weight
  • Exposure to substances such as nicotine, alcohol or illegal drugs during pregnancy

Symptoms and signs of dyslexia vary with each individual. They may experience the following:

  • Difficulty forming words correctly –they may reverse the sound in words or confuse words that sound alike
  • Late speech
  • Difficulty remembering or naming  colors , letters and numbers
  • Reading well below average
  • Difficulty playing rhyming games or learning rhyming songs
  • Problems with math or spelling
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Disinterest in books
  • Difficulty remembering details
  • Trouble understanding puns and idioms
  • Difficulty telling right from left
  • Difficulty understanding the concept of time

A significant number of children with dyslexia go undiagnosed because symptoms are not recognized. Many children who are undiagnosed, struggle in school and grow up to be adults who are unaware that they have dyslexia; therefore, it is very important for parents to note warning signs and seek assistance from a specialist.  In most cases, a diagnosis of dyslexia is determined by a licensed educational psychologist after completing a series of evaluations.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.