A healthy diet ensures the proper functioning of vital organs and systems. It also provides us with energy to complete daily tasks, and live life to the fullest. However, due to poor food choices and the rapid availability of processed food, we might find ourselves at risk of vitamin and/or mineral deficiency. Keeping track of Read more about Track Your Vitamin and Mineral Intake Quickly & Easily with Apps[…]
The blood circulating in the body is very essential to life. It delivers essential substances such as oxygen and nutrients to supply to different cells of the body. Blood also transports waste products away from the cells.
Given that, there is no substitute for blood in our lives, as it cannot be artificially made. If the body encounters blood loss, it may only be regained by blood transfusion through generous blood donors in the community.
The blood is also part of a protective mechanism of the body when it is bleeding and is referred to as blood clotting or coagulation. When there is sudden damage to the blood vessel, clotting factors act up and contribute to the formation of a blood clot. However, blood clots do not only occur when there is active bleeding and this is a dangerous condition called thromboembolic disease.
How fatal are dislodged blood clots in the system?
Thromboembolic disease is when there are fragments of blood clots that pull away from the site and circulate in the blood. Once it gets to different organs, they have a tendency to obstruct the blood vessels supplying that particular organ. An example would be if the blood clots go to the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism.
If these travel and get stuck in the heart, a heart attack is bound to take place. More seriously if the blood clots go to the brain, there is a high risk of getting a stroke. These are all very fatal situations and should not be taken for granted. That is why people who are at high risk are given an anticoagulant such as warfarin (Coumadin) to minimize the risk of blood clot formation.
How important are anticoagulants to patients?
Anticoagulants are medications needed by the body to help prevent profuse blood clots from forming even if there is no active bleeding on site. These are given to people who are at high risk in developing clots. Anticoagulants act by interrupting the formation of blood clots. Those who need a long-term intake of this type of medicine are given warfarin therapy (oral anticoagulant therapy).
There are newer types of anticoagulants out in the market and are taken in tablets and capsules. These include:
- Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
- Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
- Apixaban (Eliquis)
- Edoxaban (Lixiana)
Heparin, which is also an anticoagulant, is given by injection and usually administered by medical professionals.
Anticoagulants are taken when a patient is at risk-informing the following:
- Heart attack
- Transient ischemic attack or stroke
- Pulmonary embolism
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Of course, anticoagulants are only taken if these are officially prescribed by your doctor. These professionals only let those who are at high risk in developing these problems take the medications. Aside from having these conditions, those who recently have had surgery are given anticoagulants. This is done due to the long period of inactivity during the recovery phase and might increase the risk of developing a clot.
Who should take anticoagulants?
Not all people take these medications. Your doctor will prescribe anticoagulants if you have:
- Developed blood clots before in their lifetime
- Atrial fibrillation (arrhythmia that causes clots to form in the heart)
- Aortic valve replacement ( clots can form on the new heart valve)
- Thrombophilia (blood has a tendency to form clots, Factor V Leiden)
- Antiphospholipid syndrome (clots form when the immune system attacks proteins and fats)
The role of the INR
The time it takes for the blood to clot differs from one patient to the other. And that is what the International Normalised Ratio (INR) is for. It is a laboratory measurement of the time it takes to form a blood clot. Primarily, the INR is used to know the effects of oral anticoagulants in the clotting system.
The INR is monitored especially in people who use warfarin on a long-term basis. Knowing the INR will let you balance the risk of excessive bleeding against the risk of thrombosis or clotting. When the INR values are over 4.5, there is a high risk of a major hemorrhage or bleeding. An INR of less than 2, poses the person at risk for thromboembolism or blood clot formation within the blood vessels. This then is associated with stroke or heart attack.
INR monitoring made easy using Apps
When you are already prescribed to have a warfarin therapy, monitoring should be done on a daily basis until the target INR is reached. To have a convenient way of tracking the INR, CareClinic is a good app to download on your smartphone or iPad. This INR app lets patients record prescribed warfarin dosages, as well as schedule them.
CareClinic is one of the latest developments on Android and iOS which sends medication reminders in the form of pop-ups and vibrating alerts (via push notifications). The app makes sure that you never miss a dose so that your warfarin therapy will be successful. Another feature of this app is that when it is time to test for the INR, it sends a notification right on schedule. This makes it convenient for all patients.
What hinders the INR?
Patients under warfarin therapy cannot avoid medications, foods, and illnesses that interfere with the INR. One of which is having a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables. These vegetables are high in vitamin K. Vitamin K is known to help prevent excessive bleeding by reversing the effects of too much warfarin.
If the patient is unwell and suffering from another illness, this will also affect the INR results.
Another reason would be if you are taking diet supplements which interfere warfarin. Just the same when you are also taking other medications which give a negative effect on warfarin. These medications include:
- Heart medications such as propranolol (Inderal), amiodarone (Cardinorm) and diltiazem (Cardizem)
- Antidepressants which include sertraline (Zoloft) and citalopram (Cipramil)
- Anti-cholesterol medications such as simvastatin (Lipex)
- Anti-inflammatories and pain relievers such as tramadol (Tramal) and Celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Anti-epileptics such as carbamazepine (Tegretol)
What your Target INR should be:
Your INR can be checked by using a portable device or at the laboratory. Some doctors tell their patients to have their INR checked at the laboratory with medical professionals extracting the blood and check the results which are usually delayed. The professional will then let you know if your warfarin dose needs to be adjusted or not. This usually happens when you call the clinic and follow exactly all of the doctor’s orders.
Another way would be using portable devices in the health facility or at home. This method is better because the results are obtained on the spot and enable better management of anticoagulation therapy. Self-monitoring may provide positive benefits for the patient such as lesser complications of warfarin therapy and more time spent in the therapeutic range, but this is still under the discretion of your doctor.
The target INR actually depends on the reason why you were prescribed to take anticoagulants. Your doctor must be the one to set your INR so that everything goes well according to the treatment plan. Staying within these ranges means that you are on the right track:
- Venous thromboembolism – target INR range is 2.0 to 3.0
- Atrial fibrillation – target INR range is 2.0 to 3.0
- Prosthetic heart valves – target INR range is 2.0 to 3.5
How To Manage Warfarin Therapy Successfully
If you are one of those people who need to take long term anticoagulation therapy, choosing CareClinic as an app in your smartphone or device only makes life easier. Self-monitoring is considered to be a more effective way because the therapeutic range falls around 70%. With this health app, you will be reminded to take your medication with the right dose at the right time. You just need to input valuable information such as weight, blood pressure, diet intake, and medication.
According to research, people who monitor on their own are less likely to experience blood clots or bleeding complications. As compared to laboratory testing, self-management or monitoring usually have a 50% reduction in acquiring heart attacks and stroke. This also means an overall decline in mortality rates. So being responsible enough to monitor and follow doctor’s advise mean a lot for survival.
Scanning the bar code on the packaging of your anti-coagulation medication makes it easier to record it into the app. Putting the prescribed dose and the schedule when to take it can easily be recorded. You can also set your target INR into the app so that it will be easier for your doctor to adjust the dosage. By doing this, you will automatically see on the chart if your INR is within or out of range.
CareClinic also sends or generates appointment reminders so that you will not forget when to visit your doctor for that health or activity report. The app also functions as a diary in which every activity you do is saved there. This may be printed and a great basis for your doctor to create an appropriate treatment plan for you.
The app only wants you to be successful not only with warfarin therapy, but to have a normal and healthy life. If you want to get started tracking your INR, click here to signup and get started.
Who Needs to Track their Conditions?
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a chronic illness you will know all the reasons as to why it is crucial to consistently track and monitor on-going conditions. 48% of the US population is currently suffering from one or more chronic conditions and it is only expected to rise for the foreseeable future (see chart below).
CareClinic was designed for patients with Chronic diseases, we have made the platform robust and versatile to track and manage many different conditions effectively on the web, Android and Apple’s iPhone.
Why Should You Track Chronic Illness’?
- Helps you adhere to your plan more efficiently, so you know what’s working and what’s not and why.
- It could lower your costs and save you time – As a side, did you know that chronic medical conditions cost the US health system 75% of its health care budget? (reference)
- Find triggers for your symptoms – Discover correlations that you didn’t know existed so you can better manage your health.
How To Track Your Chronic Illness
CareClinic allows you to track specific symptoms, record current interventions and all other environmental factors that affect your health. With enough logging, you may view correlations in reports to better understand how different factors influence your health.
The main problems with managing chronic conditions are: Physicians may lack important patient-reported data which impedes proper care, CareClinic bridges this gap. Below we list the most commonly tracked chronic conditions on our platform.
5 Steps to Get You Started
- Add Your Chronic Disease once you signup
- Record your interventions (Treatment) in your private Care plan, this encompasses your medicine, natural remedies, physical activity, therapies, and even your diet.
- Record Your Symptoms when they flare up, along with activities, biometrics
- Remember to set reminders for your pills which helps you adhere to medicine safely by reminding you of which medicine to take at the right time and with the right amounts
- Find correlations in the reports, see what’s working and what’s not
- Print your reports for a caregiver with more accurate details of your health
This may seem overwhelming at first, but with our user-friendly mobile apps (also available on the web) we make it as easy as possible, see an example initial symptom entry form. After it is added for the first time, you can quickly select your symptom and adjust the levels in your journal posts (which acts as your private net diary).
Track your chronic disease using built-in care management apps such as our clinically-validated journaling platform, reminder system, reports, and our circle of care app known as CareTeams. CareTeams also enable real-time data monitoring and allows for remote monitoring of your treatment if needed.
Get Started with self-care
CareClinic provides value-based care which bridges the patient-physician gap by ensuring adherence to care plans between visits, which is beneficial for everyone.
Our vision for the future is that your care provider will find this data incredibly useful and provide more precision based medical interventions that can help you manage your health more meaningfully.
Our platform assists in self-monitoring by using reminders, rendering useful reports, and by keeping everyone in the loop. All of this has proven to improve outcomes and potentially reduce symptoms over time. We encourage you to try CareClinic out for yourself, it is free to start, click here.
What is Self-Care?
In our eyes, self care is the act of engaging in proactively maintaining good health (preventative) or taking actionable steps in improving one’s own health. It is also an album by Mac Miller, but listening to it can be part of your self care plan!
Selfcare can be seen as a 360 degree approach to being healthy. It is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, it is something you need to figure out yourself as well.
Improving one’s health is not strictly restricted to fitness and exercise. It is a series of good habits and things that bring joy into your life and improves your overall quality of life (QOL).
To achieve a high quality of life, one must do things that not only makes them happy but those that bring meaning into their life.
One of the cheapest and most therapeutic things one can do based on recent research is keeping a gratitude journal (more on this later) or maintaining any type of diary (yes it is not just for teenage girls anymore — much like adult coloring books —). When all of these habits are compiled into a plan, it is referred to as a care plan.
Composing a Care Plan for your Life
CareClinic is the simplest way to maintain a self action care plan. If you haven’t already done so, start by creating a free account by clicking here. Now follow these 3 simple steps to help you figure out what to put in your plan, how to track it, and to monitor your journey.
1. List Your Essentials
Add your medication & supplements you need help taking, once added you can add reminders and we will send you reminders within the app or via email.
Add your physical activity, what are the exercises or sports you engage in? Add them to your list and add reminders for the days you do them.
Remember, these reminders come with a “Completed” button so you can be held accountable. Speaking of accountability, make sure to add “CareContacts” or members to your “CareTeam” which will allow your friends and family to either see your progress towards a better you.
If you would like to really be held accountable to your plan, you can set them to get emails when you fail to follow through with your plan — this type of support is great for building habits quickly!
Add your nutritional plan, what are the foods that you should and should not eat, quickly build out your list of “suspect” or “good foods”. Biohackers (a new term used to describe that want to optimize human performance) add suspect foods that they learn about so they have a quick reference of what they should or should not eat.
Add your therapies & biohacks, this includes things like CBT, Low level laser therapy, or any other thing that you need to partake in for one reason or another.
2. List Your Good-to-Haves
Now that we have the essentials set, let’s add things that are good to have, here are a few things that you may want to add:
- Cooking, Baking
- Meditation, Mindfulness
- Social time and interacting with others
- Writing in your self care journal
- Add water in-take reminders to your nutrition list, or bulletproof coffee, or kombucha, kefir, whatever it may be.
Feel free to add other activities you enjoy, is it listening to music, dancing, playing an instrument, playing a sport? Add them to the desired category, no need to add a reminder for these, these are done when you can.
Use your plan as a reference, the calendar below your care plan automatically updates your reminders below (and later on will show your adherence to your self care plan).
3. Post To Your Journal
Did you know writing in your journal can improve your immunity? (ref) It can also improve your cognition (IQ), help your wounds heal at a faster rate, lower stress, and increase confidence?
Questions you want to answer daily, such as: “What was I grateful for today?” “What made me laugh today?” “One good thing about today was when ?” “What is one thing I can help someone else do?”
Tips on journaling: Sometimes it may not be clear what to write about, but the only way to really figure out what to write about is to start. Don’t overwrite, do not spend more than 20 minutes.
Keep in mind CareClinic works on mobile and the web, so no matter what device you may be on, you can write in your diary… not having access is no longer an excuse, unless if part of your care plan includes “less screen time”.
This may all sound too good to be true, but journaling is the most cost effective way to be more mentally and emotionally happy according to Dr. Pennebaker (written in his book: Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotion).
What’s are the next steps?
The next step after saving your care plan is to consult a professional that can look it over and confirm the items you entered are ‘safe’ or a good start. Some people you may consider talking to include integrated medicine doctors, nutritionists and dieticians, chiropractors & fitness trainers.
It is good to divide your plan into 4 major categories: Physical Self-care, Psychological, Emotional & Spiritual, Workplace.
Additionally, now is the time for you to start tracking symptoms if any and find triggers and correlations, luckily we make it by showing charts and our advanced algorithms can bubble up issues it thinks you may find useful (not a replacement for medical advice).
CareClinic is available on desktop and through your mobile browser, additionally, you can also download the CareClinic app for Android or iPhone, iPad (iOS) through the app store.
If you are ready to get started, click here.
CareClinic’s pain tracking functionality is one of the most used features of the app. It is helpful for those suffering from Chronic Pain and those that have been injured and need to report their pain to their care provider, whether it is a physiotherapist or a chiropractor. CareClinic can help you manage pain from within Read more about Using a Pain Tracker App to Track & Manage Pain for Relief[…]
Mood tracking is used for improving your mental health. The process is simple, you record your mood at set times throughout the day and then look at the results to find “triggers”. Triggers are things that could be causing you to have anxiety, clinical depression or other mood-related disorders.
Aside from just figuring out what the triggers for your mood are, you can also use the diary functionality to write about how you feel to lessen “cognitive burden” or the stress of having to keep things in your mind, which should help you feel better as well. Recording your mood may also let you know if you need to take any PRN medication associated with such a symptom in which case you can use CareClinic as a medication tracker as well.
Many users also use a mood tracker as a self-help technique as part of an overall self-care plan. Self-care is an act of taking cautionary steps outside the doctors’ clinic to help yourself. Below we show you a quick example of how to get started tracking your mood, writing in your journal, and looking at the results in the Reports section.
The Journal section contains a tab called “Daily Values” which gives the power to enter our Mood, see below:
Let’s suppose we came to the journal a few times throughout the day and decided to enter our mood (again these screenshots are from the web app, but the mobile app works the same way for iOS or Android) we could then step back and take a look at Reports (after three entries) and it would produce the following chart:
Mood Journaling Process
If we want to get a better overall glimpse as to how we are doing outside of the chart, we can hop on in the calendar as well, which will show the same thing, along with the remainder of the Daily Values. This can be useful to print or share with your caregiver if needed as it renders more information and provides the day of the week as a reference.
Additional features are always being added to make it easier to track your mood. It is wise to use a full solution to track your health like CareClinic then an app just for mood tracking as it will not provide the same amount of information to make sense of the data you are recording.
If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us, or otherwise give us a try by clicking here.