Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Patient Education Day

I've decided that once a week is going to be Patient Education Day here on A Private Tour. As a nurse that is not currently practicing..ahem..the child...I need to stay well-versed in what I've learned so that by the time I do start working I don't sound like a total idiot when I tell my patient to put down his jelly donut. 
So, today I'm going to teach you about the importance of exercise
We've all heard about exercise--"It's good for your heart," "It prevents heart disease," "It's good for our body," etc. etc. But no one tells you how exactly how working up stinky, uncomfortable sweat does this. 
I'm going to teach you one of the many, many benefits of exercising for 30-60 mins. a day, 3 times a week--specifically how it prevents fatality in heart attack and stroke. 
Now, we all know what the heart does: It pumps oxygen-rich blood through your arteries to drop of oxygen to the body and oxygen-poor blood through the veins to pick of carbon dioxide, which goes back to the lungs and heart. We all have this need, whether we run 5 miles a day, or get winded sucking on a jawbreaker. But when we exercise, our need for better drop-off of oxygen and pick up of carbon dioxide increases, shown by your pounding heart rate and fast breathing. But, instead of your body solely relying on an increased heart rate and more breathing, it adapts: It makes more blood vessels that connect to those veins and arteries to help them do their job. Marvelous. I'm sure you've experienced this when you noticed that after a week or two of running you're not quite as pathetic as you were the first day you started. 
Exhibit A: Here lies the circulation of Couch Potato and Chuck Norris
For the sake of being simple, both of them have one artery and one vein. Now, Couch Potato's activity each day includes getting up from the couch to grab a Dr. Pepper and cold hot dog and back. Therefore, this person's body only requires one vein and one artery to facilitate his/her "activity" each day. 
Chuck Norris, however, has branches of blood vessels running off of his artery and vein. And although the diagram doesn't show it, these branches are intertwined networks of blood vessels that go throughout his entire body. This is because Chuck Norris requires lots and lots of collateral blood vessels to aid those bulging peck muscles and quick, ninja-like legs to beat up bad guys. His body burns off more oxygen and builds up more carbon dioxide and, therefore, needs a more efficient blood supply.

Exhibit B: The heart attack or stroke
A heart attack happens when your heart does no receive enough oxygen. A stroke happens when your brain does not get enough oxygen. Usually heart attacks happen due to a block in the coronary arteries or vessels near the heart, and a stroke happens by a clot in a blood vessel that reaches the brain. But, again, for the sake of being simple, we'll show the blockage in the right legs of Couch Potato and Chuck Norris. 
What happens when Couch Potato has a block? He doesn't stand a chance, does he? He only has one vein and one artery to go to his heart and brain, so any blockage would immediately lead to his tragically predictable death.
Chuck Norris, on the other hand, stands a change, doesn't he? Chuck's extra blood supply made is so his body didn't rely on that one artery or vein to bring oxygen to his heart or brain. He's got backups. These "backups" Chuck's body developed while adapting to those hardcore workouts will buy him some time to, in the case of a heart attack, take an Aspirin and get to the hospital--and in the case of a stroke, get some oxygen to his brain before he can take some blood thinners at the hospital. But then again, Chuck Norris will never have a heart attach because his heart is not foolish enough to attack him.

Make sense? Hope so. Thanks for reading, but for goodness sakes, get off your computer and do some stupid jumping jacks!


  1. I love the visuals!! what a great idea to keep your brain flowing with all the stuff you learned in school!

  2. 1st, you rock for wanted to stay up-to snuff (is that how they say it?) on all your nursing/health info. and thank you for sharing with the rest of us!

    2nd, glad you shared a great benefit to exercise! honestly, i have to really try to enjoy a hard workout (depending on what i'm doing) this will push be again to go a little harder and longer. oh it's hurts so good! ;)

    3rd, the comparison of the couch potato and the epic chuck norris ROCKS. :)


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