High-Risk Pregnancy: What Does It Mean?

 

When a medical professional deems a pregnancy “high-risk”, this means that the chances of the mother and/or baby developing health problems are significantly increased in comparison to pregnancies that are not considered to be high-risk.

High-Risk PregnancyWhile being told you that have a high-risk pregnancy can certainly sound scary and seem overwhelming, it doesn’t always necessarily mean that you will run into problems. It’s simply a way for doctors to ensure that you get special attention, and that any problems that might develop during your pregnancy are taken care of early on.

There are a number of factors that can come into place when physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary, as well as other medical specialists, such as OB/GYN’s, make this determination. For example, a pregnancy may be considered high-risk if you’ve ever had problems with past pregnancies, such as preterm labour, or are pregnant with twins/triplets. You may also be considered high-risk if you have health problems such as endometriosis, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, epilepsy, and HIV or Hepatitis C. Age can also determine whether or not a pregnancy is considered high-risk – for example, teenagers who become pregnant are more likely to develop anemia or high blood pressure, and are also less likely to seek prenatal care. On the contrary, women over the age of 35 are at an increased risk of developing pregnancy complications, such as excessive bleeding or prolonged labour. Those who smoke, use illegal drugs, drink alcohol and/or lead otherwise unhealthy and unsafe lifestyles are also more likely to have a high-risk pregnancy. All of these aforementioned factors (and more) are taken into consideration when dealing with the health of the mother and baby.

To avoid a high-risk pregnancy, there are certain (and very important!) steps that Dr. Ali Ghahary says every expectant mother should take…

The first step would be to ensure that you are leading a healthy lifestyle. If you smoke, quit! If you drink, stop! These are risky substances that can have a detrimental impact on the health of your child. The second would be to ensure that you have sought out regular prenatal care. By having regular prenatal check-ups, you not only monitor your own health, but the health of your unborn child as well. It’s also crucial to make sure you’re eating a healthy diet when pregnant. You may need to satisfy those random pregnancy cravings from time to time, but it’s also important to get essential nutrients like calcium, iron and folic acid. Many expectant mothers will opt to take a prenatal vitamin to help with the intake of these and other nutrients.

If you have any concerns about your pregnancy or about becoming pregnant, do not hesitate to discuss those concerns with your primary health practitioner.

Advertisements

How to Stay Healthy This Fall

As summer transitions into fall in just two weeks time (the first day of autumn is September 22nd), Vancouver physician, Ali Ghahary, has put together a list of tips on how to better prepare yourself for the changing seasons.

How to Stay Healthy This Fall

As flu season approaches in November, it’s not a bad idea to get the flu shot a bit early. Typically, many clinics and pharmacies around Vancouver and surrounding areas will offer the flu shot as early as October. If you are high-risk (such as a senior over the age of 65, have a previously diagnosed chronic illness, have a weakened immune system or are pregnant), Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends getting the flu shot. It is also recommended for children under the age of 5. There are many types of flu strains, and it is a highly contagious illness, so it’s always a good idea to protect yourself against it. To avoid influenza, always practice good hygiene habits such as regular hand washing, keeping your mouth and nose covered when coughing, and avoiding contact with others who are sick.

Along with the fall also comes gloomier weather – this means more clouds and rain than sunshine. As a result, we’ll be spending more time indoors than out, which means our intake of Vitamin D will be decreased. To ensure you’re getting enough Vitamin D, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends taking a Vitamin D supplement. Taking Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, and it also boosts your immune system and your mood. Click here for more surprising benefits of Vitamin D.

Daylight savings also occurs in the fall. On November 5th, we’ll be turning our clocks behind an hour. This means that there will be longer periods of darkness, and as a result you will be getting some extra sleep. However, some people often have trouble with daylight savings as it can make you feel as though your sleep pattern has been significantly disrupted. Despite getting that extra hour of sleep, it’s still important to go to bed at a decent time and make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night so you feel well-rested the next day. For those who suffer from insomnia, Dr. Ali Ghahary shares some tips on how to fight it on his website at alighahary.ca.

You may also notice a change in your skin during the colder fall months, and even into winter. Cooler temperatures can cause skin to become pale, dry and flaky, so it is important to keep your skin moisturized. You can also still wear a sunscreen. If you have sensitive skin, your family physician or dermatologist will be able to recommend something to you.

Staying active is also important! With the change in weather you may be less inclined to exercise outdoors. However, there are still ways you can keep fit at home. If you don’t have exercise equipment, doing stretches and yoga are great ways to stay physically active. Many community centres also have drop-in sessions available and some even offer free fitness classes.

Also remember to keep eating healthy. In-season vegetables broccoli, squash, kale, cabbage, and other dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and romaine lettuce. You can find much more information on healthy eating by clicking here.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is a condition that prevents the lungs from getting enough oxygen due to the build-up of fluid in the lung’s air sacs called the alveoli.

Some of the most common causes of ARDS include aspiration, pneumonia, septic shock, the inhalation of chemicals, as well as traumatic injury. Those who smoke or drink alcohol are also at a higher risk of developing ARDS.

When the lungs become built up with fluid, their ability to expand then decreases. Consequently, you will then exhibit symptoms such as rapid breathing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, as well as low blood pressure and even organ failure – such as kidney or liver failure.

In order to accurately diagnose ARDS or other problems with the lungs, Dr. Ali Ghahary will listen to a patient’s chest with a device known as a stethoscope. The stethoscope allows for Dr. Ghahary to hear any abnormalities in a patient’s lungs. If it’s suspected that the patient has Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and their blood pressure is low, they may have a pale appearance as well as a blue-ish tinge to the skin and nails. This is caused by lack of oxygen. Other tests that are performed to diagnose ARDS include complete blood counts, urine cultures, sputum cultures, chest x-rays and bronchoscopies.

As many as 10,000 Canadians die each year as a result of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. As this can be a life threatening condition, ARDS usually requires hospitalization for treatment – often in an intensive care unit (ICU). While in the intensive care unit, the patient will be sedated and they will be placed on a ventilator. The main goal of the ventilator is to not only provide the patient with large doses of oxygen, but to also help the lungs recover. Diuretics, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs are also often prescribed to patients with ARDS.

Though it can take several months to years, patients with ARDS can recover quickly. Some patients, however, may have long-term respiratory problems, including difficulty breathing, fatigue, weakness, and even depression. In order to properly manage your lung health, it is important to go to your physician for regular check-ups and immediately report any abnormal symptoms that you’re experiencing.

For further advice on how you can protect your lungs and for other lung-related support services, visit the BC Lung Association’s website at bc.lung.ca.

Vertigo

Dr. Ali Ghahary - VertigoVertigo is a type of disorder that affects your balance. It is often characterized by dizziness or a sensation that you or the room you are in is spinning. In instances where it feels as though you yourself are moving, this is known as subjective vertigo. If it feels like objects are moving or the room you’re in is spinning, this is known as objective vertigo. As a result of these sensations, it is also not uncommon to experience other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, headaches, and even sweating.

When it comes to diagnosing vertigo, it is important to understand that it is not the same as dizziness despite the two words sometimes being used interchangeably. When you are dizzy, you will feel faint, lightheaded, and unsteady…whereas with vertigo, you will perceive yourself or objects to be moving.

Vertigo can last a few hours to a few days, and in some cases may even take several weeks before it settles down completely. There are many reasons why an individual might develop vertigo, including inner ear infections, such as vestibular neuritis. Vestibular neuritis causes the vestibular nerve to become inflamed and disrupts your sense of balance. You can also develop vertigo as a result of a traumatic head injury, or even by moving a certain way – such as standing up or bending over. This is known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV. It can also be a common side effect of medications. If you notice any abnormalities (such as vertigo) while you are taking medications, it is important to avoid operating heavy machinery or driving until you know the side effects have subsided. You should always address any concerns you have about the medications you are taking with your doctor or pharmacy, and also be sure notify them right away of any abnormal side effects. In some cases, your physician may want to change the dose of your medication, or will prescribe you a different medication all together.

Treating vertigo will depend on how severe it is. The best way to prevent vertigo from worsening is to rest in bed and avoid movement as much as possible. When getting out of bed or moving around, it is important to do so slowly and carefully. To treat some of the symptoms that are associated with vertigo, like nausea and vomiting, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends trying over-the-counter antiemetic medications such as Gravol. If that is unsuccessful, a stronger medication called Ondansetron may be prescribed.

If your vertigo worsens or persists, your family physician may need to refer you to an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist or a Neurologist.