An ICU nurse took to Facebook to express her exasperation with the number of patients succumbing to medical conditions during recent cold snaps.

Posting on her page 林婷一下吧 icu護理師, she said on typical evenings this winter a dozen or so patients are admitted to her ICU department due to heart attacks or strokes, filling up all available beds. She went on to say a number of those cases could have been prevented.

A 70-year old individual who suffered an intracranial hemorrhagic stroke regularly took blood pressure medication but was not in the habit of monitoring his blood pressure. After an evening bath, his left hand suddenly felt weak as he was later rushed to the emergency room where his blood pressure slowly came back under control and he began to regain consciousness.

Another 49 year old individual suffered a cerebral hemorrhage after smoking for 20 years and being diagnosed with high blood pressure a year ago. His doctor said that he did not need to take medication and he did not follow up with blood pressure monitoring.

Recently, he felt unwell after drinking alcohol and came down with a headache. His wife suggested he was simply drunk and needed a shower and rest. After doing this, he collapsed and was taken to the hospital where his Glasgow Coma Scale dropped to 3 and he passed away shortly thereafter.

The ICU nurse noted that this type of death is especially hard on family members as they have no chance to say goodbye. The scenario plays out all too often in ICUs where people are admitted for strokes and heart attacks, while many sufferers have telltale warning signs such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol.

When people are diagnosed with such indicators of early death, some turn a blind eye and disregard their health care provider with comments like, “I know my own body…I should be fine,” the ICU nurse said.

She added that quite a few people under the age of 50 are regularly being sent to the ICU. These people have gradual cardiovascular system deterioration for 10-20 years with their cardiovascular systems becoming more brittle. When they reach 40 to 50, their blood vessels can suddenly explode and cause intracranial cerebral hemorrhage, cerebral infarction, or heart attack.

To prevent emergency trips to the ICU, she recommended the following three tips.

First off, regular health checks for people over 50. She said that if one can spend NT$2,000 (US$60) on scratch and win tickets for Lunar New Year, then a similar amount of money for a health check is well worth it.

Secondly, if you suffer from the three highs (high blood pressure, etc.) or smoke and drink regularly, you may consider getting a CT scan or coronary artery check, and if vascular stenosis is found, doctors can prescribe medicine to treat it. Do not wait until you experience paralysis of the hands and feet or require radical intervention such as a stent.

Thirdly, she advocated diet control, avoiding food that is too oily, too salty, or too sweet. She said she regularly encounters young taxi drivers and engineers who end up in the ICU with strokes and heart attacks attributed to a poor diet. She added that overweight people should consider exercise, and at a minimum, remember to take their medication.

She said concerns that medication may hurt the kidneys and liver are unfounded, and the results of not taking prescribed medication can be much worse. Additionally, it is now common for many people under the age of 40 to take high blood pressure medication.

In conclusion, she repeated the old adage that “the least painful treatment is prevention.” She urged everyone to look after their health so they can cherish their time with relatives and friends.

Taiwan News