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Advice against Health Hazards

Truths about protecting our eyes

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Fact: Eye exercises will not improve or preserve vision or reduce the need for glasses. Your vision depends on many factors, including the shape of your eyeball and the health of the eye tissues, neither of which can be significantly altered with eye exercises.
As the eyes age, problems with vision become more common. Learn how to recognize the risk factors and symptoms of specific eye diseases cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy — and what steps one can take to prevent or treat them before your vision deteriorates.

Myth: Reading in dim light will worsen our vision.

Fact: Dim lighting will not damage our eyesight. However, it will tire our eyes out more quickly. The best way to position a reading light is to have it shine directly onto the page, not over the shoulder. A desk lamp with an opaque shade pointing directly at the reading material is ideal.

Myth: Carrots are the best food for the eyes.

Fact: Carrots, which contain vitamin A, are indeed good for the eyes. But fresh fruits and dark green leafy vegetables, which contain more antioxidant vitamins such as C and E, are even better. Antioxidants may even help protect the eyes against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Just don’t expect them to prevent or correct basic vision problems such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Myth: It’s best not to wear glasses or contact lenses all the time. Taking a break from them allows our eyes to rest.

Fact: If we need glasses or contacts for distance vision or reading, we should use them. Not wearing glasses will strain our eyes and tire them out instead of resting them. However, it will not worsen our vision or lead to eye disease.

Myth: Staring at a computer screen all day is bad for the eyes.

Fact: Using a computer does not damage our eyes. However, staring at a computer screen all day can contribute to eyestrain or tired eyes. People who stare at a computer screen for long periods tend not to blink as often as usual, which can cause the eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable. To help prevent eyestrain, we should adjust the lighting so it doesn’t create a glare or harsh reflection on the screen, it is advised to rest the eyes briefly every 20 minutes, and make a conscious effort to blink regularly so that our eyes stay well lubricated.

It can be a frightening moment. When the doctor diagnoses an eye disease such as glaucoma, cataract, or AMD, we immediately worry about losing our sight or becoming seriously vision-impaired.

It’s important to know what to do not only when disease strikes, but what to do before and after. We should know the warning signs and how a diagnosis is made. And the best treatment options for that.

The good news is, with the proper treatment decisions, those eye diseases can be addressed and controlled and their potential to compromise our sight can be halted.

Our eyes do change as we get older. That’s a truth we can do little about. It’s the consequences we can change.
We we should learn all the facts about treating adult eye diseases.

Resources:
Harvard Health Publication
Harvard Medical School

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Advice against Health Hazards

Foods that fight high cholesterol

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.Some cholesterol-lowering foods deliver a good dose of soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Others provide polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. And those with plant sterols and stanols keep the body from absorbing cholesterol. Here are 5 of those foods:

Oats. An easy way to start lowering cholesterol is to choose oatmeal or an oat-based cold cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram.

Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices — from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond — and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food.

Nuts. A bushel of studies shows that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.

 

Foods fortified with sterols and stanols:  Sterols and stanols extracted from plants gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Companies are now adding them to a wide variety of foods. They’re also available as supplements. Getting 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.

Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.

 

Resources:
Harvard Health Publications
Harvard Medical School

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Advice against Health Hazards

Normal Blood pressure: How low should a person can go?

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A new study suggests greater health benefits with a lower-than-standard number.

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Blood pressure has long been one of the best markers of your health. It is a number you can remember and monitor. High blood pressure (hypertension) is linked to a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes.

About one out of three adults has high blood pressure, which is usually defined as a reading of 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher.

The first, or upper, number (systolic pressure) represents the pressure inside the arteries when the heart beats, and the second, or lower, number (diastolic pressure) is the pressure between beats when the heart rests.

Blood pressure rises with age because of increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term buildup of plaque, and the effects of other diseases involving the heart and blood vessels. Typically, more attention is given to the diastolic reading as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

“In fact, for a long time, some physicians felt that a systolic (upper) number higher than 140 could be tolerated in older people,” says Dr. Paul Huang, a cardiologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “But both upper and lower numbers are equally important.”

A new number to aim for

While 140/90 continues to be the blood pressure cutoff, a study published in the Nov. 26, 2015 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine shows that lowering pressure to around 120/80 may reap greater benefits.

Researchers examined the initial results from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or SPRINT, which studied 9,361 adults over age 50 who either had hypertension or were at a high risk for cardiovascular disease.

The subjects were divided into two groups. The first received an intensive treatment to lower blood pressure to less than 120/80. The other group followed a standard treatment to lower it to less than 140/90.

After three years, the researchers found that the group with the target of below 120/80 had a 25% lower risk of heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular death compared with those with the standard target of less than 140/90. They also had 27% fewer deaths from any cause. (The study was stopped early because the outcome in the intensive treatment group was so much better than in the standard treatment group.)
Ups and downs of lower numbers

This study supports observational studies that have found that lower blood pressure reduces cardiovascular risk.

But what does it take to get to the lower numbers? “On average, the people in the intensive treatment group took three blood pressure medications, while those in the standard treatment group only took two,” says Dr. Huang.

Moreover, the study found that the benefits in reducing heart attacks, strokes, and death were found equally in those older or younger than age 75. “So we can no longer say that a higher blood pressure is okay just because someone’s older,” he says.

But should older men focus on going lower? Is lower than 140/90 good enough, or should you be more aggressive and get that number down as close as possible to 120/80?

“If you currently are on blood pressure medicine, and your pressure is lower than 140/90, you should discuss with your doctor whether you should aim to go even lower,” says Dr. Huang. “There may be additional benefits to further reducing your stroke and heart attack risk.”

Still, there may be some downsides to going lower. For instance, many people may not want to take any additional medication. They may be concerned about battling common side effects, such as extra urination, erection problems, weakness, dizziness, insomnia, constipation, and fatigue. They also may have enough trouble monitoring their current medication without adding more to the mix.

Another potential problem: pressure that drops too low. “This could lead to dizziness and lightheadedness, especially when suddenly rising from a seated position, and increase your risk of falls,” says Dr. Huang.

Also, because the study was stopped early, other possible downsides of the extra medications, such as effects on cognitive function or kidney function, remain unknown.

Monitor your blood pressure:

If anything, this study reinforces the need for men to be more diligent about maintaining a healthy level, says Dr. Huang. He suggests older men follow these basic guidelines:

*Check your pressure every month and alert your doctor to changes. “If the upper number is repeatedly higher than 140, or the lower number higher than 90, let your doctor know,” he says.

*Continue to take your medications as prescribed. “If you suffer from any side effects, talk with your doctor about changing the dosage or drug.”

*Reduce your salt intake. “You do not have to go sodium-free, but be more aware of how much sodium is in the foods you eat,” he says. In general, try to keep your sodium intake below 2,000 milligrams a day. Foods that include the words “smoked,” “processed,” “instant,” or “cured” in the name or on the label are often quite high in sodium.

*Continue to exercise or adopt some kind of workout routine. “Activity and weight loss can help lower and maintain a healthy blood pressure,” says Dr. Huang.

From : Harvard Health Publications
Harvard Medical School

Categories
Advice against Health Hazards

Lifestyle for a Healthy Heart

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Heart disease may be inherited, but often it’s the result of lifestyle. Changing eating, exercise and smoking habits can play a significant part in prevention.

The following risk factors can cause heart disease. While there are some you can do little or nothing about, there are others that are worth addressing to make sure you keep a healthy heart:
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Age
Four out of five people who die from coronary heart disease are aged 65 or older.

Gender
Men are more at risk of heart disease than women and have heart attacks earlier in life. However, death rates from heart disease and stroke for women are twice as high as those for all forms of cancer.

The risk for women increases as they approach menopause and continues to rise as they get older, possibly because of the loss of oestrogen, the natural hormone.

Family history
Children of parents with heart disease are more likely to suffer from the disease themselves. Some races, such as Afro-Caribbeans, are more prone to coronary heart disease and stroke than others.

Smoking
Smokers are twice as likely to suffer heart attacks as non-smokers and are more likely to die as a result. Smoking is also linked to increased risk of stroke.

The nicotine and carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke damages the cardiovascular system. Passive smoking may also be a danger.

Women who smoke and take the oral contraceptive pill are at high risk of heart disease and stroke.

Alcohol
Drinking an average of more than one drink a day for women or more than two drinks a day for men increases the risk of heart disease and stroke because of the effect on blood pressure, weight and levels of triglycerides, a type of fat carried in the blood.

Binge drinking is particularly dangerous.

Drug abuse
The use of certain drugs, particularly cocaine and those taken intravenously, has been linked to heart disease and stroke.

Cocaine can cause abnormal heartbeat, which can be fatal, while heroin and opiates can cause lung failure. Injecting drugs can cause an infection of the heart or blood vessels.

Cholesterol
The higher the blood cholesterol level, the higher the risk of coronary heart disease, particularly if it’s combined with any of the other risk factors.

Diet is one cause of high cholesterol; others are age, gender and family history.

Blood pressure
High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload, causing it to enlarge and weaken over time. When combined with obesity, smoking, high cholesterol or diabetes, the risk increases several times.

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High blood pressure can be a problem in women who are pregnant or are taking high-dose types of oral contraceptive pill.

Physical inactivity
Failure to exercise is a cause of coronary heart disease as physical activity helps control cholesterol levels, diabetes and, in some cases, can help lower blood pressure.

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Obesity
People who are overweight are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, even if they have none of the other risk factors. Excess weight causes extra strain on the heart, influences blood pressure, cholesterol and levels of other blood fats – including triglycerides – and increases the risk of developing diabetes.

 

Diabetes
The condition seriously increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, even if glucose levels are under control. More than 80 per cent of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease.

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Previous medical history
People who have had a previous heart attack or stroke are more likely than others to suffer further events.

Stress
Some links have been made between stress and coronary artery disease. This could be because it encourages people to eat more, start smoking or smoke more than they would otherwise have done.

Source:BBC Health

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Why do Obstetricians Still Rush to Clamp the Cord?

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For many years, the World Health Organization and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics have advised against early umbilical cord clamping. But obstetricians have been reluctant to change their habits.

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Although no clamping occurs in nature, cord clamping has become such an accepted norm that delayed clamping is generally considered a new or unproved intervention.

Basic teaching of physiology could be a factor — most textbooks state or imply that the cord circulation closes only because of the application of the cord clamp, which is not accurate.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Dr. David Hutchon argues:
“Clamping the functioning umbilical cord at birth is an unproved intervention. Lack of awareness of current evidence, pragmatism, and conflicting guidelines are all preventing change. To prevent further injury to babies we would be better to rush to change.”

A separate review in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine also highlights the importance of delayed cord clamping, stating:

“Many clinical studies have revealed that the delayed cord clamping elevates blood volume and hemoglobin and prevents anemia in infants.

Moreover, since it was known that umbilical cord blood contains various valuable stem cells such as hematopoietic stem cells, endothelial cell precursors, mesenchymal progenitors and multipotent/pluripotent lineage stem cells, the merit of delayed cord clamping has been magnified.”

Resources:
British Medical Journal November 10 2010
Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine March 2010; 14(3):488-95
iVillage.com June 1, 2010

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