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How to Get More ‘Good’ Cholesterol

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Doctors aren’t the only ones telling people to lower their cholesterol. Television commercials also tout cereals   from Quaker to Kellogg’s   and medications that encourage viewers to become heart healthy and promise to lower LDL, the “bad” cholesterol.

But there is another type of cholesterol that physicians agree is important to raise — HDL, or the “good” cholesterol.

HDL works in opposition to LDL. Instead of increasing the risk of heart disease, it can help prevent heart attacks and stroke.

Doctors have known this for more than a decade, but cardiologists have recently started paying more attention to HDL after a study showed that giving doses of it could reverse plaque buildup in arteries, said Dr. Robert Rosenson, a preventive cardiologist at Northwestern University in Chicago and a member of the American College of Cardiologists’ prevention committee.

For the first time, the study showed how raising HDL is likely as important as lowering LDL when it comes to reducing the risk of heart attack, Rosenson said.

And just as too many Americans have high levels of so-called bad cholesterol, too few have low levels of good cholesterol. The latest statistics from the American Heart Association show that as many as one in three adult men and one in 10 adult women have low HDL cholesterol.

Therefore, “the next big hope is raising HDL,” said Dr. Greg Brown, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Drug May Offer Hope

Hope may lie with a new drug, torcetrapib, that raises HDL. It has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but Dr. Steven Nissen said the trials of the drug were “one of the most watched.” He is interim chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and president of the American College of Cardiology.

“If [torcetrapib] works, it’ll be a revolution,” said Nissen, who’s also the principal investigator in an ongoing trial of the medication. Early trials of the drug have resulted in a 50 to 60 percent increase in HDL levels, he said.

Torcetrapib may raise blood pressure slightly in some patients, though, which is an unwanted side effect when trying to reduce risk factors for heart disease, Rosenson said.

Also, it is not yet known how effective torcetrapib will be at reducing the risk of heart attack, Nissen said.

The drug has received a lot of press already in part because of controversy raised when Pfizer, its manufacturer, said initially that it would market torcetrapib ony as a combination pill with Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering drug.

But this week The New York Times reported that Pfizer had reversed its decision and now plans to make it available as a stand-alone drug as well.

What About Niacin?

Even though torcetrapib won’t be approved until 2008 at the earliest, there are already medications on the market that are effective at raising HDL. Niacin, or vitamin B3 in high-dose form, is one that raises HDL by about 30 percent, Brown said.

In spite of its effectiveness, niacin isn’t prescribed very often by general doctors, said Dr. Roger Blumenthal, director of the Johns Hopkins Ciccaroni preventive cardiology center and spokesman for the American Heart Association.

That’s because it often causes flushing, or heat flashes, in patients. Although it’s effective, many doctors don’t prescribe it, because it requires counseling patients on side effects and adjusting the dosage many times, Brown said.

While some patients can’t tolerate niacin, the side effects do go away after two to three months of continued use, he added. Also, drug manufacturers are developing newer preparations of niacin that minimize the side effects and may become available next year, Blumenthal said.

Lifestyle Changes Work, Too

For patients at high risk of heart attack and strokes, some preventive cardiologists have been fairly aggressive about treating low HDL. But Blumenthal said that cholesterol guidelines for general physicians have focused more on lowering LDL than on raising HDL and that the evidence for them to aggressively treat low HDL isn’t yet available.

But, if you are interested in increasing your good cholesterol, there are a number of things you can do, doctors said. Not surprisingly, they are what doctors always advise — get more exercise and eat better.

First, lose weight if you are overweight, Brown said, because overweight or obese people are likely to have lots of bad and not enough good cholesterol.

Regular exercise also pumps up HDL levels. And, for those who smoke, quitting raises HDL levels as well — a result that can be seen in about 60 days, Rosenson said .

Altogether, the lifestyle changes can raise HDL by about 20 percent, he added.

As for dietary recommendations for elevating HDL, Rosenson said fish, walnuts, almonds and avocados all have monounsaturated fats, which can help raise HDL slightly, although he recommends them in moderation.

Lifestyle changes are important, doctors said, not only for improving HDL but for overall improvement in cholesterol and health.

But, said one dietitian: “There is no magic cereal that will suddenly improve cholesterol. However, eating high-fiber cereal is a great way to start your day.”

Source:ABC News

Healthy Tips

Hot and Cold compress

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Hot and Cold compress is very good treatment for treating different kinds of pain in different parts of body.


Let us see  what Is a Compress?
Hot and cold compresses can either be store-bought or homemade—which one  we choose is simply a matter of convenience. A cold compresses can be anything from gel packs that are placed in the freezer, to ice-wrapped in a clean cloth or a plain old bag of frozen corn. Heat compresses  can be applied in many kinds or forms such as hot water, hot towel heating pads, deep heating rubs, microwavable gel packs and ultrasound.

Hot compress is the application of heat to any part of the body to relieve certain kinds of pain.  All of these tools can help in applying hot compress to  affected part of our body. On the other hand  cold compress  can also relieve pain. Cold compress can reduce both swelling and pain in the affected area of the body. In cases such as pulled muscles and strains cold compress is very useful.

The Hot Compress
A hot compress is normally recommended for chronic conditions such as tight muscles, menstrual cramps and arthritic pain. A  hot compress provides “heat therapy” which helps to reduce muscle spasms and is applied as often as needed. But heat therapy is only applied to the affected area for short periods of time—usually no more than 20 minutes.

Two Compresses, One Injury
There are times when it is necessary to use both hot and cold compression on a single soft-tissue injury. The most important thing to remember about any soft-tissue injury is that in order for it to heal, swelling must be relieved.  Cold compress will help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with soft-tissue injuries and should be utilized for the first 72 hours after the injury occurs. A heat compress is then applied after 72 hours (only if swelling has subsided) to promote blood flow and induce proper healing.

Both of these treatments can only offer short term relief but it is very helpful for people who are experiencing different kind of pain. Sometimes pains can occur many times and these treatments can eliminate the pain quickly. Continuous application of hot and cold compress can increase blood circulation that can result in good health. The required time for this hot and cold compress is only 20 minutes, but it can be used more often if needed until swelling and pain diminish.

Hot and cold compresses can both shock the tissues and the blood vessels on the affected area due to sudden change of temperature. The affected part will be flooded by more white blood cells to fight the infection. But in this process, the circulation of the blood’s red cells in the affected area is blocked by the white blood cells. As  we all know, red blood cells carry oxygen that is needed for the normal functioning of each cell. In this case, accumulation of spasms spread through the other parts of the body especially through the leg area. The application of hot and cold compresses can increase blood circulations that carry the oxygen. The hot and cold sensation relaxes the nerves that can trigger the pain signal to the brain.

Hot and cold compresses are both very beneficial if they are used properly on the affected area. It is better to always consult a doctor to accompany the treatment with medication for faster treatment of any pain. Hot and cold are both needed for the body to maintain its normal functions. Homeostasis inside the body is maintained by the equilibrium of hot and cold temperature.

It is important to note that hot and cold compression should never be used on open wounds, nor should either type of compression be used by individuals with circulatory problems without a doctor’s consent. Heating pads should never be used “hot,” despite their name. A pad that is simply warm to the touch should be sufficient. It is also important to remember never to fall asleep while using a heating pad, because serious burns can occur.   Hot and cold compresses should never be applied directly to the skin. A physician should be notified if swelling persists or if there is no sign of reduced inflammation after 72 hours.


Hot and Cold Compression Therapy

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