Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Week

Don’t let a stroke be your first warning:
Let our pharmacists at Fresh Therapeutics check your heart heartbeat during Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Week

Local residents are being urged to take advantage of a free testing station at Fresh Therapeutics Broadway and Bondi this week to check whether they have an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation, which dramatically increases the risk of stroke.

This screening initiative is part of a national awareness campaign developed in response to alarmingly low levels of testing for an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke five-fold.

A nationwide survey of 550 people aged 65 and over has found that only one-in-three older Australians have discussed their heart health with a doctor in the past 12 months, and only one-in-ten has discussed atrial fibrillation as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in this period.[1]

This finding is of concern to experts who say that new medical guidelines recommend routine screening of people aged 65 years or older for atrial fibrillation. These guidelines state that one-in-ten strokes occur in people with previously undiagnosed atrial fibrillation.[2]

“The research shows that on average, older Australians see a doctor six times a year which provides plenty of opportunity to discuss and detect an irregular heartbeat,” said Tanya Hall, CEO of leading patient support group Hearts4Hearts

Ms Hall, an atrial fibrillation patient herself, is advocating for pulse and heart rate testing to become routine for people aged over 65 years when seeing their doctor.

When undiagnosed and untreated, an irregular heartbeat can cause blood to pool in a chamber of the heart and form a clot that can travel to the brain, causing a devastating stroke.

Fresh Therapeutics is urging local residents, particularly those aged over 65 years or with existing heart conditions, to take advantage of the free testing station or make an appointment with their doctor.

Atrial fibrillation-related strokes can be prevented, but diagnosis remains the critical first step. It is estimated that one-in-four strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation.

“We don’t want a stroke to be the first time any Australian discovers they have an irregular heartbeat. Pulse and heart-rate testing is quick, it’s simple and could ultimately save lives.”

Experts say that early diagnosis of atrial fibrillation must be matched by long-term use of medication that can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 70 per cent.

A new analysis produced for Hearts4Heart reveals that around 25 per cent of people prescribed anticoagulation medicine to prevent stroke discontinue therapy within 12 months.[3]

At Fresh Therapeutics we take the time to explain to our patients with atrial fibrillation why they have been prescribed an anticoagulant and why they need to continue to take this medication over the long term.

During Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Week (16-22 September 2019) we highlight the need for early diagnosis of an irregular heartbeat and appropriate long-term use of stroke prevention therapy.

References

1. YouGov Galaxy. National Poll of 550 Australians aged >65 Years. August 2019

2. National Heart Foundation of Australia and Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand: Australian clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and management of atrial fibrillation 2018

3. Prospection. NOAC Prevalence. PBS 10% Data Set. July 2019.

Chronic-Pain-Week-Australia_Compoinding-Chemist Broadway and Bondi

National Pain Week – Chemist Broadway & Bondi

This week is National Pain Week when we look at the burden of pain, in particular chronic pain, on the community.

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for 3 months or more after the normal healing time. Unlike acute pain, which usually resolves when the underlying cause heals or is treated, chronic pain is a complex condition associated with changes to the way the brain perceives pain.

This Brainman Video explains the difference between acute and chronic pain

Because chronic pain is different to acute pain the medications that are used are different. Many people in Australia develop medication problems because they continue to use medicines helpful for acute pain such as opiates (eg codeine, tramadol, morphine) that may eventually make chronic pain worse.  Opiates can cause severe constipation, dizziness (leading to falls) and respiratory depression. For certain people opiates are highly addictive and when combined with other medicines can cause death.  In some people continuous use of opiates can lead to “hyperalgesia” or more pain which is why they are not always the best option for managing chronic pain.

Managing chronic pain is much more than managing medicines. It involves looking at lifestyle issues that may be aggravating pain such as insomnia, lack of exercise, stress, poor diet, smoking, alcohol use.  It also involves learning how to manage flare ups and how to pace yourself to minimize pain.

At Fresh Therapeutics we try to work with the person suffering from chronic pain and their GP, physiotherapist and mental health professionals to produce the best results for the person living with chronic pain.  We offer a  Chronic Pain Medscheck service to eligible patients where we:

  • Discuss any of your pain concerns
  • Ensure your medicines are working for you
  • Work with you to create an action plan for improvement
  • Help you gain an understanding of your pain journey

Chronic-Pain-Week-Australia_Compoinding-Chemist Broadway and BondiWe also use material developed by NSW Health and the Agency for Clinical Innovation that can be accessed on the internet – https://www.aci.health.nsw.gov.au/chronic-pain/chronic-pain The website is designed to help people gain a better understanding of  pain. information to enable people to develop skills and knowledge in the self management of pain in partnership with healthcare providers.

We also refer to the Chronic Pain Australia a self-help organisation that helps people engage with others suffering from chronic pain http://chronicpainaustralia.org.au

For some patients taking medicines orally can cause more problems.  We have  pain specialists that ask us to compound certain pain medicines in a “transdermal” cream or gel. We can combine several drugs in the one cream. These are designed to have a local effect and minimise whole of body side effects.

Glaucoma Help Compounding Pharmacy

Glaucoma Health Message at Fresh Therapeutics

There are so many conditions that we need to be alert to as we chat with our patients about their health.

Just a simple “How are you feeling today” can identify someone who is struggling with depression or thoughts of ending their life. Is anyone in your family being treated for glaucoma? can be the trigger to get a person to have an eye check for glaucoma a highly preventable disease.

This is why we have decided at Fresh to have a weekly health message that our staff will ask of our customers in an effort to discuss some preventable condition.

 

Last month we featured Glaucoma with the following questions:

Questions on Glaucoma Do you have family history of glaucoma?

First degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) are at greater risk – having an almost 1 in 4 chance of developing glaucoma in their own lifetime. The risk increases to 56% if the relative has advanced glaucoma.

Questions on GlaucomaAre you of Asian or African descent?
Questions on GlaucomaDo you have high eye pressure? (your optometrist can check)
Questions on GlaucomaDo you have myopia? (near sightedness)
Questions on GlaucomaDo you experience migraines?
Questions on GlaucomaHave you been on a prolonged course of cortisone or prednisone medicine?
Questions on GlaucomaHave you had an eye operation or eye injury?
Questions on GlaucomaDo you have a history of high or low blood pressure?

If our patients answered yes to any of these questions we encouraged them to see their optometrist as they would be more likely than those answering no to develop glaucoma. Left untreated glaucoma can lead to irreversible blindness.

For our patients that have already been diagnosed with glaucoma we ask:

Questions on GlaucomaHave you told your family members you have glaucoma? Encourage first degree family members to have eye health check from the age of 35
Questions on GlaucomaHow do you remember to use your drops every day? Non-adherence to the glaucoma eye drops can lead to blindness
Questions on GlaucomaHow often do you have your eyes checked – regular check are necessary to monitor progress of the disease and prevent blindness
Questions on GlaucomaHas your ophthalmologist discussed Vitamin B3? Recent studies at the University of Sydney have shown that Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) may prevent blindness.

You can also go to the Glaucoma Australia web-site where there is a Risk Calculator and more information about Glaucoma

Woman using Inhaler - Fresh Therapeutics promotes Asthma Week

Fresh Therapeutics promotes Asthma  Week 1st – 7th September

This Asthma Week, Fresh Therapeutics is helping Asthma Australia to bust the myths about Asthma.

Asthma is a condition that affects most Australians, two-thirds in fact! Despite this, there are many misconceptions about this chronic disease.

We want everyone in the community to know about asthma, good asthma control and prevention.

We want everyone in the community to be empowered to take steps to prevent and treat their asthma and to educate others.

This Asthma Week, Busting Asthma Mythsfocuses on five facts about asthma along with new data on Australians perceptions and misperceptions about asthma.

AA-NAW_Checklist_A4_Side2-PRINT_R

AA-NAW_Checklist_A4_Side1-PRINT_R-1

 

FACT ONE

Asthma Impacts Most AustraliansTwo-thirds of Australians are impacted by Asthma. Most people know 1 of the 1.25 million Australians who have been diagnosed with asthma.

FACT TWO

Asthma is a long term disease. Asthma can develop at any age. Most people don’t grow out of asthma – even though 1 person in 4 may think that – but it can be managed with medication.

FACT THREE

Asthma  is a life-threatening disease

More  than 400 people die because of asthma  each year. The right medication, knowledge, and a written Asthma Action Plan can help keep asthma under control.  Almost 1 person in every 3 don’t realise asthma is life-threatening.

FACT FOUR

Asthma triggers are varied and include pollen, smoke, physical activity and exercise, colds and flus and thunderstorms

Most people know that asthma has many common triggers including pollen, smoke, physical activity, and viruses.  But are you 1 out of 2 Australians who know that thunderstorms can trigger asthma flare-ups? Everybody experiences asthma differently.

FACT FIVE

Using an Asthma Preventer every day  is the bets way to reduce asthma symptoms and flare-ups

Using a preventer each day reduces symptoms of asthma ad flare-ups for most people.  These medications mimic the body’s natural response.  Only 1 in 4 people under 24 years old knows this.  Preventers are the mainstay  of asthma management and we want everyone to know.

ASTHMA CHECKLIST

People often treat their asthma as a short-term condition that comes and goes when  they have asthma symptoms. But, asthma is a chronic (long term) condition that’s always there, even when they don’t have symptoms.

Follow the Asthma Australia asthma checklist to ensure you’re taking the right steps to live well with Asthma.

Visit your Doctor for an asthma review

With your doctor:

  • Assess your current level of asthma control
  • Make sure you are on the right medicines to manage your asthma (eg. A preventer)
  • Check your inhaler technique
  • Ensure your written Asthma Action  Plan is up to date

With your Fresh Therapeutics pharmacist

  • Ask about a spacer
  • Check your inhaler technique – up to 90% of people are thought to use their inhaler incorrectly
  • Ask about how to manage any nasal symptoms effectively
  • Ask about a script reminder service (Medadvisor) to ensure you do not run out of preventer
  • Get the Asthma and Asthma Medicines Self Care Fact Cards with the Asthma First Aid Plan that you can keep on your fridge

Take the Asthma Control Test

If you have experienced any of the following in the last four weeks it indicates your asthma may not be under good control

  • Daytime asthma symptoms more than 2 days per  week
  • Need for reliever medication more than 2 days per week
  • Any limitation on activities due to asthma symptoms
  • Any asthma symptoms during the night or on waking

Or get your Asthma Score by taking the Asthma Control test online at  www.asthmaaustralia.org.au

Preventer – every day even when well

Most adults with asthma should have preventer medication.  Daily use of a preventer is key to keeping well. Regular use of your preventer makes the airways less sensitive, will reduce your symptoms and should prevent remodelling or thickening of the airway tissue.

Check your inhaler device technique regularly

Research has shown up to 90% of people with asthma use their inhalers incorrectly, which  means the complete dose of medicine may not be getting into the lungs. Ask you doctor or pharmacist to check you are using your inhaler medication device correctly.  You can also watch inhaler technique videos at https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/living-with-asthma/how-to-videos

 Get a written Asthma Plan

With your doctor, develop and follow a written Asthma Plan for:

  • Better controlled asthma
  • Fewer asthma flare ups
  • Fewer days of school or work
  • Reduced reliever medication use
  • Fewer hospital visits

Learn Asthma First Aid

Get your Asthma Fact Card from Fresh Therapeutics or download the Asthma First Aid app from the iTunes store or Google Play.

For asthma information and support call the 1800ASTHMA helpline (1800 278 462) or visit asthmaaustralia.org.au

Two-thirds of Australians are impacted by asthma. Most people know 1 of the 2.5 million Australians who have been diagnosed with asthma. You probably know someone with asthma.

taking antibiotics

Antibiotic Awareness: Antibiotics Will Not Help You Get Over a Cold or Flu Faster

Colds and flu are caused by viruses. Antibiotics are medicines used to treat bacterial infections and diseases. Colds and flu are caused by viruses.

Viruses

Viruses are a type of tiny organism that can cause illness. When you have a cold, you may sneeze and have a blocked or a runny nose, a sore throat and a cough. Colds rarely cause serious harm, but they can still make you feel unwell. Colds usually get better in 7–10 days, but a cough can last up to three weeks. Influenza, commonly known as ‘the flu’, is different to a cold although both are caused by viruses. Flu symptoms usually start suddenly with a high fever and you may feel unwell and need to rest. You may have a dry cough, shivering, sweating and severe muscle aches.

Bacterial infections

antibiotics

Antibiotics are medicines used to treat diseases and infections caused by bacteria. Bacterial infections can affect the throat, lungs, skin, bowel, and many other parts of the body. While some infections are severe, many are mild. These diseases can be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics interfere with the vital processes in bacteria, killing the bacteria or stopping them from multiplying. However, they do not work against viruses. Therefore, not all illnesses and diseases can be treated with an antibiotic.

Antibiotics don’t kill viruses

People who have a cold or the flu may think that antibiotics will help them get better faster. This is not true. Antibiotics do not kill viruses so will have no effect on viruses such as those causing colds or the flu. If you are normally healthy and well, your body can usually clear the viral infection causing the cold or flu by itself. Antibiotics will not help people get over a cold or flu faster, they won’t stop the infection from getting worse, and won’t prevent the infection being passed onto other people.

Possible side effects of antibiotic use

upset stomach

Antibiotics may cause side effects such as:

  • diarrhea
  • stomach upsets
  • thrush
  • allergic reactions

 

Protection against influenza

The yearly flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu. It is ideal to have the flu vaccine in autumn each year. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for further information.

Self Care for colds and flu

Colds and flu usually get better on their own, but there are things that you can do:

  • Get plenty of sleep and rest, and stay comfortably warm.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Carefully breathe in steam (e.g. from inhalations, vaporizers, showers, baths) to loosen mucus.
  • Blow your nose gently with a tissue and dispose.
  • Try drinking honey and lemon in warm water.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Wash children’s dummies and toys regularly.
  • Avoid sharing eating or drinking utensils.
  • Eat regular, healthy meals, fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Limit foods high in salt, sugar, and fat.
  • Keep hands away from nose, mouth, and eyes.

 

Overuse of antibiotics

If you use antibiotics when you don’t need to, such as treating colds and flu, it could make the antibiotic less effective when they are needed. This is called antibiotic resistance. When bacteria become antibiotic resistant, the antibiotic will no longer work against that infection. This can make infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria difficult to treat, last for a long time and spread to other people. According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic resistance is the third biggest threat to human health. Therefore, it is very important to only use antibiotics when appropriate. Do not expect doctors to prescribe antibiotics for viral illnesses such as colds and flu. This will encourage the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

When antibiotics are needed

a sick child taking antibiotics2Certain people may be more likely to develop complications from respiratory tract infections. Complications are often bacterial infections that need antibiotics. People with chronic conditions (e.g. asthma, diabetes, immune problems) are more likely to need an antibiotic to treat respiratory tract infections. There are illnesses that need to be treated with antibiotics. Pneumonia is a serious lung infection that can be caused by bacteria. Antibiotics will be prescribed if pneumonia is caused by bacteria. Always ask your doctor how long you need to take a prescribed antibiotic. It may not always be necessary to “Take until finished”.

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If you have a cold or the flu, speak with our pharmacists at Fresh Therapeutics. We can give you detailed information about colds and flu and suggest treatment and prevention options. We stock Self Care Fact Cards such as those titled Colds and flu, Coughs and Antibiotics.

NPS MedicineWise is a helpful consumer website that has information about colds and flu, antibiotics and antibiotic resistance, and bacteria. NPS MedicineWise can be found at www.nps.org.au The NPS holds an annual Antibiotic Awareness Week that encourages consumers to “Handle Antibiotics with Care”

 

Acknowledgement: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia: Self Care Health Column