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Archive for February, 2014

Panic Attacks. By Our “Cool as a Cucumber” Student Pharmacist, Jin Kim.

Have you ever experienced a panic attack?

People who have had a panic attack describe it as the scariest experience of all time. During a panic attack, these people believe they are going to die within the next few minutes. They think something serious is happening, such as a heart attack. These grave thoughts about dying are due to both the physical and psychological symptoms of the attacks.

What can you do if you have a panic attack?

To combat a panic attack, try to breathe out slowly as this will stop hyperventilation. Most people breathe fast during a panic attack and take in too much oxygen. The hyperventilation then leads to a blood acidity imbalance and makes a person feel lightheaded and as if they are going to faint.

Knowing that you will get through a panic attack and be okay afterwards will help you calm down. Having a panic attack cannot physically hurt you; it can only make you very fearful.

Panic attacks lead to a panic disorder when you have multiple panic attacks or are constantly worrying about having them for more than a month.

The most effective way to treat panic disorder is through a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medications.

Usually, the first choice of medications for panic disorder are in a drug class called “selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors” or SSRIs. SSRIs cause an increase of serotonin in the brain which helps to relieve anxiety. These drugs include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft).

Quick acting benzodiazepines, anti-anxiety medications that are also used as sleep aids, can also be used at the time of a panic attack to help stop the symptoms. Alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan) are examples of benzodiazepine drugs that are typically used for short term therapy.

If you have a panic disorder and want to do something about it besides behavioral therapy and medications, regular exercise has been found to help. A recent study showed that aerobic exercise may prevent the frequency of panic attacks.

You also need to continuously educate yourself about panic attacks and broaden your knowledge. Through constant education, you will learn facts that will allow you to distinguish between a heart attack and a panic attack.

Finally, give yourself plenty of time to recover from the panic attack after it happens. Panic disorders do not go away in a couple of days, so don’t be discouraged if you have another attack.





Pancreatitis. By Our February Student Pharmacist, Ericka Panek.

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. This inflammation is a rare, but serious disease that can either be a short or long term problem.

The pancreas is a small organ associated with digestion and regulatory hormones. The hormone side is responsible for releasing insulin and glucagon, which help your body regulate the amount of sugar in the blood. The digestive side releases enzymes to help the body break down the fats, carbohydrates, and proteins you eat throughout the day.

What causes pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis happens when your body doesn’t release the digestive enzymes correctly, causing them to remain in the pancreas. This can result in the pancreas breaking itself down from the inside. There are two major causes of pancreatitis: gallstones and alcohol.

To remember the causes of acute pancreatitis, use the mnemonic: I GET SMASHED. Each letter stands for a cause of acute pancreatitis. To read what each letter means, go HERE. Also take a look at the chart at the bottom of this posting.

Gallstones are the #1 cause of acute (short term) pancreatitis. Gallstones can get lodged in the duct system that transports the enzymes and fluids from the pancreas to the intestines.

Alcohol is the #1 cause of chronic (long term) pancreatitis. Chronic pancreatitis is a slow developing disease that can be caused over years of excess alcohol use. Alcohol is also the #2 cause of acute pancreatits.

What are the symptoms of pancreatitis?

The most common symptoms of pancreatitis are severe pain in the stomach or abdomen.

For acute pancreatitis, the pain is often a sharp pain that comes on quickly. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting.

For chronic pancreatitis, symptoms are also abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms can be worse after eating. More advanced chronic pancreatitis can also cause weight loss and poor nutrition, since your body cannot break down and absorb the nutrients from the food you eat.


Treatment for both acute and chronic pancreatitis requires medical attention. Patients will need IV fluids and nutritional support. Most patients also receive pain medication to help with the abdominal pain. Antibiotics are rarely used and only if there is an infection around the tissue of the pancreas.

Treatment can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on how severe the pancreatitis is. An important part of treating pancreatitis is finding out the cause and working to prevent a reoccurrence. If the cause is due to gallstones, a procedure to remove the gallstones or the gallbladder may be required. If the cause is due to alcohol, counseling and abstinence is required. Similarly with the other causes, other solutions may be available to prevent pancreatitis from happening again.

More Info on Heart Month. By Our February Student Pharmacist, Jin Kim.

As a follow-up to Ericka’s blog posting, here is a bit more information on Heart Month.

The month of February this year is the 50th anniversary of American Heart Month. The tradition began 50 years ago by President Lyndon Baines Johnson. February was designated as heart month to make people aware that heart disease is the nation’s number one killer. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease takes more lives than all types of cancer put together. And, according to President Obama, “Cardiovascular disease is responsible for one out of every four deaths in the United States.”

To make the impact of heart disease easier to understand, among the estimated 83.6 million American adults, one person has a coronary event about every 34 seconds and one American will die from heart disease approximately every 83 seconds.

However, don’t be discouraged, because you can follow the AHA’s “Life’s Simple 7” to keep your heart healthy.

Here are the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7.”

1. Get Active

Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day five times a week. Exercise can be as simple as walking and this will be a good start. Those who exercise regularly have better moods, less stress, and more energy. If you exercise at least 150 minutes a week, then your risk for heart disease goes down.

2. Control Cholesterol

What do the numbers mean when you measure your cholesterol level at your doctor’s office? There are two types of cholesterol. The good cholesterol is HDL and the bad cholesterol is LDL. If there is too much bad cholesterol (LDL), then it can lead to blockages in veins and arteries. The total cholesterol consists of HDL, LDL, and other lipid components. It would be desirable to have the total cholesterol level below 200.

If the total cholesterol is 200mg/dL or higher, then set a goal to lower your total cholesterol by avoiding foods that contain high levels of cholesterol, trans, and saturated fats.

In order to control your cholesterol, schedule an appointment to find out what your current level is. If your doctor has prescribed a cholesterol medication for you, it’s important to take the medication for your benefit.

3. Eat Better

This means consuming foods HIGH in fiber, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Try to eat fish at least twice a week, because recent research shows fish may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease. Don’t like fish? Try a fish oil supplement. We can help you choose one here in the pharmacy. Or ask your doctor.

People find it difficult to change their diets. Start one step at a time and you will increase your chance for feeling good and healthy.

4. Manage blood pressure

Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. When blood pressure is in the normal range, it keeps you healthier longer, because there is less strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys. Don’t forget to take your blood pressure medication if your doctor has prescribed one.

5. Lose Weight

Obesity is a major independent risk factor for heart disease. If too much fat accumulates at one’s waist, then a person has a higher risk for multiple health problems. Losing as few as 5 ~ 10 pounds can make a difference in lowering blood pressure.

6. Reduce Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar levels regularly as your doctor has recommended. High levels of uncontrolled blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, and nerves.

7. Stop Smoking

Cigarettes will shorten your life. Smoking increases a risk for coronary heart disease and damages your entire circulatory system. If you need help to quit smoking, stop by the pharmacy and talk to a pharmacist. In the meanwhile, you can visit the website www.smokefree.gov.

You can visit the website www.heart.org for more details on the “Life’s Simple 7” and other useful information regarding your heart.

Go RED for Heart Month. By Our February Student Pharmacist, Ericka Panek.

Throughout the month of February, the American Heart Association educates about heart disease and prevention. So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day and Heart Awareness Month, I thought I would educate you about high blood pressure.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is often called the “silent killer” because it can go unnoticed by the patient. You may wonder why your doctor takes your blood pressure every time you sit down in the office and this is why. Many people who are diagnosed with high blood pressure have no symptoms. If untreated for too long, high blood pressure can start to damage your heart, your arteries, and other organs. For this reason, it’s important to see your doctor at least once per year for a yearly physical, even if you haven’t been sick.

Like many diseases later in life, what we do now can have an impact on our future. Here are some tips about what you can do to reduce your risk of high blood pressure.

  • Enjoy regular physical activity! I know you hear this all the time, but that is because exercise is important. Regular physical activity can be specific to each person: brisk walking, swimming, running, hiking, fitness classes, or team sports. Find something you enjoy. Make the exercise a group or family activity. Give the exercise priority.
  • Avoid tobacco use! Did you know that every cigarette you have actually increases your blood pressure temporarily, even for up to 20 minutes after you finish it? Did you also know that one year after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is HALF of what it was while you were smoking?
  • Manage your stress level. Stress causes us to go into a “fight or flight” situation, which if faced with a threat is beneficial, but when we are chronically stressed it can negatively affect our health. Everyone handles stress differently, so take the time to learn from yourself what stresses you out and how you can manage that stress. Further information can be found HERE: (http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm)

Education is the first step to living a healthier life. The second step is doing something with that knowledge. Since this month is all about awareness and education, I challenge you to spread the word about high blood pressure. If you have any questions or want to check your blood pressure here at the pharmacy, just ask!

Driving in the Snow. How to Avoid The White Death. By Our Student Pharmacist, Jin Kim.

It’s been very cold here in Ohio this winter. There’s still a lot of snow sitting on the ground of Plain City. The seasonal scenery is very beautiful these days, but we all know that these snows can be dangerous when it comes to driving.

I would like to give some of my tips on driving in the snow. Also, I would like to share my secret of hitting the jackpot at a casino. Very different ideas? Think again!

So how do you hit the jackpot at a casino? The answer is very simple and it’s a truth testified by many frequent casino players. When you go to a casino, do not play any games. Then you will hit the jackpot! The wish of all casino players is to get their lost money back. If you don’t play, you can’t lose.

The same logic applies to driving in the snow. If there is a lot of snow sitting on the ground, then you should try to avoid driving until the road clears. This sounds boring, but you will be far away from any trouble. If you stay home, you can’t get hurt on icy roads. Jackpot!

But what if you have to drive in the snow for reasons like going to work? Then you must be very careful at all times and drive slowly. Both accelerating and stopping takes longer on snowy, icy roads. So you should keep an extra distance from the car in front of you.

I’ve seen many people driving all-wheel drive cars as if they were invincible. The sense of over security has led to many car accidents.

Additionally, make sure to have good winter tires and have your tire pressure checked frequently. Having good tires is very important. According to a study by Michelin, a front wheel drive car with winter tires outperforms an all-wheel drive car with all season tires. There is a clear difference between winter tires and all season tires. It is worth getting snow tires for cold winter days.

It is also a good idea to keep your gas tank full. If you get stuck for a long amount of time, you can use your car for a warm shelter. Try to carry some blankets, water, and snacks in the trunk for your benefit if you do get stranded. Having a full gas tank also prevents water condensation from forming in the gas tank.

Finally, you might say that you have not learned anything new from this article. However, you must keep in mind that although you may be good at driving in winter conditions, there are people out there who might not be as good as you are. So always be very careful and keep that extra distance between you and other drivers.

Or the better option is to stay at home and hit the jackpot.