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Poor Immune System and Low Levels of Antibodies Linked to Stroke

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A study shows that the chances of suffering a stroke are linked to the presence of a certain type of antibody in the immune system.

click  to see the pictures

The research group, which was led by Professor Johan Frostegård, has previously demonstrated that high levels of a certain type of antibody (anti-PC) in the immune defense are linked to a reduced risk of arteriosclerosis, a common cause of thrombosis and myocardial infarction.

In the present study, the researchers focused exclusively on stroke – a blood clot in the brain – and compared 227 individuals who had suffered stroke over a 13-year period with 445 sex and age-matched controls. After controlling for other risk factors (age, sex, smoking habits, cholesterol levels, diabetes, BMI and blood pressure), they were able to show that low levels (below 30 per cent of average) of PC antibodies correlated with a higher risk of stroke, which in women meant an almost three-fold increase.

The researchers have now advanced the hypothesis that low levels of natural PC antibodies, which can be a condition of a poor immune system – contribute to the development of arteriosclerosis and its consequences, which include stroke.

Arteriosclerosis is formed by the accumulation of plaque on the walls of blood vessels, which can rupture and form a blood clot. The researchers believe that the PC antibodies react to a substance called phosphorylcholine (PC), which is a component of a class of fat molecules (phospholipids) that go to make up the plaque.

Source: Elements4Health

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Healthy Tips

Having Sex Twice A Week Reduces Chance of Heart Attack

Men who have sex at least twice a week can almost halve their risk of heart disease, according to new research.
………………….
It shows men who indulge in regular lovemaking are up to 45 percent less likely to develop life-threatening heart conditions. The study, of over 1,000 men, did not examine whether women benefit too.

The researchers who carried out the investigation are calling for doctors to screen men for sexual activity when assessing their risk of heart disease.

Resources:
The Telegraph January 8, 2010
American Journal of Cardiology January 15, 2010, Volume 105, Issue 2, Pages 192-197

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Ailmemts & Remedies

Ataxia

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Definition:
Ataxia (from Greek , meaning “lack of order”) is a neurological sign and symptom consisting of gross lack of coordination of muscle movements. Ataxia is a non-specific clinical manifestation implying dysfunction of parts of the nervous system that coordinate movement, such as the cerebellum. Several possible causes exist for these patterns of neurological dysfunction. The term “dystaxia” is rarely used as a synonym.

A sign of an underlying condition, ataxia can affect your movements, your speech, your eye movements and your ability to swallow.
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Persistent ataxia usually results from damage to your cerebellum — the part of your brain that controls muscle coordination. Many conditions may cause ataxia, including alcohol abuse, stroke, tumor, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. It’s also possible to inherit a defective gene that may cause one of many ataxia variants.

Types of ataxia:-

#Cerebellar ataxia:
The term cerebellar ataxia is employed to indicate ataxia due to dysfunction of the cerebellum. This causes a variety of elementary neurological deficits, such as antagonist hypotonia, asynergy, dysmetria, dyschronometria, and dysdiadochokinesia. How and where these abnormalities manifest depend on which cerebellar structures are lesioned, and whether the lesion is bilateral or unilateral.

*Dysfunction of the vestibulocerebellum impairs balance and control of eye movements. This presents with postural instability, in which the person tends to separate the feet on standing to gain a wider base and avoid oscillations (especially posterior-anterior ones); instability is therefore worsened when standing with the feet together (irrespective of whether the eyes are open or closed: this is a negative Romberg’s test, or more accurately, denotes the inability to carry out the test as the individual is unstable even with open eyes).

*Dysfunction of the spinocerebellum presents with a wide-based “drunken sailor” gait, characterised by uncertain start and stop, lateral deviations, and unequal steps. This part of the cerebellum regulates body and limb movements.

*Dysfunction of the cerebrocerebellum presents with disturbances in carrying out voluntary, planned movements, including intention tremor (coarse trembling, accentuated over the execution of voluntary movements, possibly involving the head and eyes as well as the limbs and torso), peculiar writing abnormalities (large, unequal letters, irregular underlining), and a peculiar pattern of dysarthria (slurred speech, sometimes characterised by explosive variations in voice intensity despite a regular rhythm).

#Sensory ataxia:
The term sensory ataxia is employed to indicate ataxia due to loss of proprioception (sensitivity to joint and body part position), which generally depends on dysfunction of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord, since they carry proprioceptive information up to the brain; in some cases, the cause may instead be dysfunction of the various brain parts that receive that information, including the cerebellum, thalamus, and parietal lobes. Sensory ataxia presents with an unsteady “stomping” gait with heavy heel strikes, as well as postural instability that is characteristically worsened when the lack of proprioceptive input cannot be compensated by visual input, such as in poorly lit environments. Doctors can evidence this during physical examination by having the patient stand with his / her feet together and eyes shut, which will cause the patient’s instability to markedly worsen, producing wide oscillations and possibly a fall (this is called a positive Romberg’s test). Worsening of the finger-pointing test with the eyes closed is another feature of sensory ataxia. Also, when the patient is standing with arms and hands extended toward the examiner, if the eyes are closed, the patient’s finger will tend to “fall down” and be restored to the horizontal extended position by sudden extensor contractions (“ataxic hand”).

#Vestibular ataxia:
The term vestibular ataxia is employed to indicate ataxia due to dysfunction of the vestibular system, which in acute and unilateral cases is associated with prominent vertigo, nausea and vomiting. In slow-onset, chronic bilateral cases of vestibular dysfunction, these characteristic manifestations may be absent, and dysequilibrium may be the sole presentation.

Symptoms:-
Symptoms may vary depending on the severity and type of ataxia, of which there are many. If the ataxia is caused by an injury or another health condition, symptoms may emerge at any age, and may well improve and eventually disappear.

Initial ataxia symptoms usually include:
*Poor limb coordination.
*Dysarthria – slurred and slow speech that is difficult to produce. The patient may also have difficulties controlling volume, rhythm, and pitch.

If the ataxia advances other symptoms may also appear:

*Swallowing difficulties, which may sometimes result in choking or coughing.
*Facial expressions become less apparent.
*Tremors – parts of the body may shake or tremble unintentionally.
*Nystagmus – involuntary rapid rhythmic repetitious eye movement. Movements may be vertical, horizontal, or circular.
*Pes cavus – a foot with too high an arch.
*Cold feet – because of a lack of muscle activity.
*Problems with balance.
*Walking difficulties – in severe cases the patient may need a wheelchair.
*Vision problems.
*Hearing problems.
*Depression – as a result of having to live and cope with the symptoms.

Cerebellar ataxias:
Cerebellar ataxia early onset usually emerges between the ages of 4 and 26. Late onset ataxia generally appears after the patient is 20 years old. Late-onset ataxias usually present less severe symptoms, compared to early-onset ataxia.

Ataxia telangiectasia symptoms generally include:
*Small veins appear around the corner of the eyes, cheeks and ears.
*Physical and sexual development is usually delayed.

Friedreich’s ataxia symptoms generally include:
*The spine curves sideways (scoliosis).
*The heart muscle becomes weaker (cardiomyopathy).
*Diabetes.

For patients whose symptoms are caused by injury or illness, symptoms often improve over time, and eventually go away completely.

When to see a doctor:-
If you aren’t aware of having a condition that causes ataxia, such as multiple sclerosis, see your doctor if you:

*Lose balance
*Lose muscle coordination in a hand, arm or leg
*Have difficulty walking
*Slur your speech
*Have difficulty swallowing

Causes:-
The three types of ataxia have overlapping causes, and can therefore either coexist or occur in isolation.

Focal lesions
Any type of focal lesion of the central nervous system (such as stroke, brain tumour, multiple sclerosis) will cause the type of ataxia corresponding to the site of the lesion: cerebellar if in the cerebellum, sensory if in the dorsal spinal cord (and rarely in the thalamus or parietal lobe), vestibular if in the vestibular system (including the vestibular areas of the cerebral cortex).

Exogenous substances
Exogenous substances that cause ataxia mainly do so because they have a depressant effect on central nervous system function. The most common example is ethanol, which is capable of causing reversible cerebellar and vestibular ataxia. Other examples include various prescription drugs (e.g. most antiepileptic drugs have cerebellar ataxia as a possible adverse effect), marijuana ingestion[2] and various other recreational drugs (e.g. ketamine, PCP or dextromethorphan, all of which are NMDA receptor antagonists that produce a dissociative state at high doses).

Vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause, among several neurological abnormalities, overlapping cerebellar and sensory ataxia.

Causes of isolated sensory ataxia

Peripheral neuropathies may cause generalised or localised sensory ataxia (e.g. a limb only) depending on the extent of the neuropathic involvement. Spinal disorders of various types may cause sensory ataxia from the lesioned level below, when they involve the dorsal columns.

Non-hereditary cerebellar degeneration
Non-hereditary causes of cerebellar degeneration include chronic ethanol abuse, paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration, high altitude cerebral oedema, coeliac disease, normal pressure hydrocephalus and cerebellitis.

Hereditary ataxias
Ataxia may depend on hereditary disorders consisting of degeneration of the cerebellum and/or of the spine; most cases feature both to some extent, and therefore present with overlapping cerebellar and sensory ataxia, even though one is often more evident than the other. Hereditary disorders causing ataxia include autosomal dominant ones such as spinocerebellar ataxia, episodic ataxia, and dentatorubropallidoluysian atrophy, as well as autosomal recessive disorders such as Friedreich’s ataxia (sensory and cerebellar, with the former predominating) and Niemann Pick disease, ataxia-telangiectasia (sensory and cerebellar, with the latter predominating), and abetalipoproteinaemia. An example of X-linked ataxic condition is the rare fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome.

GeneReview/NIH/UW entry on Hereditary Ataxia Overview

Arnold-Chiari Malformation
Arnold-Chiari malformation is a malformation of the brain. It consists of a downward displacement of the cerebellar tonsils and the medulla through the foramen magnum, sometimes causing hydrocephalus as a result of obstruction of CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) outflow.

Diagnosis:-
Besides conducting a physical exam and a neurological exam, including checking your memory and concentration, vision, hearing, balance, coordination and reflexes, your doctor may request these laboratory tests:

#Blood tests. Certain blood tests can confirm or exclude the suspected condition. A sample of your blood will be drawn from your arm through a needle. You may be required to fast from midnight the night before your appointment until after your blood is drawn. The specific tests will depend on the suspected cause, but most likely will include a complete blood count (CBC), which helps evaluate your overall health and detect a range of disorders, including infection and heavy metal poisoning.

#Urine tests. Examining a sample of your urine under a microscope (urinalysis) may suggest certain systemic abnormalities that can be related to some forms of ataxia. If your doctor suspects Wilson’s disease, you may be asked for a 24-hour urine collection to help determine the amount of copper in your system.

#Imaging studies. A computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of your brain may help determine potential causes.

#Genetic testing. Your doctor may recommend genetic testing to determine whether you or your child has the gene mutation that causes one of the hereditary ataxic conditions. Gene tests are available for many but not all of the hereditary ataxias.

Treatments:-
There’s no treatment specifically for ataxia and it is not curable  but a great deal can be done to ease symptoms and improve the quality of life of the patient. Treatment for coordination and balance problems usually involves the use of adaptive devices which help the patient attain as much independence as possible. These may include the use of a cane (walking stick), crutches, walker or a wheelchair. Symptoms such as tremor, stiffness, spasticity, sleep disorders, muscle weakness, depression (or frustration, sadness and anger) may be addressed with targeted physical therapy, speech therapy, medications and counseling.

Occupational therapy – the occupational therapist can help the patient manage better around the house and work. This may involve some home adaptations, wheelchair assessments, and making the kitchen more practical for the patient.

#Speech therapy – the speech therapist can help with swallowing, coughing, choking and speech problems. If speech becomes very difficult the speech therapist can help the patient learn how to use speech aids.

#Orthopedic care – this can help patients with curvature of the spine (scoliosis).

Physical therapy (physiotherapy) – a physical therapist (physiotherapist) can help maintain strength and improve mobility.

#Physical therapy to help you build strength and enhance your mobility
#Occupational therapy to help you with daily living tasks, such as feeding yourself
#Speech therapy to improve speech and aid swallowing

*Counseling – patients with ataxia commonly become frustrated and depressed; this usually results from having to cope with some symptoms which affect physical mobility and coordination. Talking to a well qualified counselor, such as a psychotherapist can help.

*Supplements and nutrition – some patients with ataxia have very low levels of vitamin E and require supplements and/or a special diet. As sensitivity to gluten is more common among ataxia patients, a gluten-free diet also helps.

*Medication – some patients with ataxia telangiectasia are prescribed gamma-globulin injections to boost their immune systems. There are also drugs for muscle spasms and uncontrollable eye movements.

Coping and support:-
The challenges you face when living with ataxia, such as loss of independence, or having a child with the condition, may make you feel alone or lead to depression and anxiety. Talking to a counselor or therapist may lessen your sense of isolation and help you cope. Or you may find encouragement and understanding in a support group, either for ataxia or for your underlying condition, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis.

Although support groups aren’t for everyone, they can be good sources of information. Group members often know about the latest treatments and tend to share their own experiences. If you’re interested, your doctor may be able to recommend a group in your area.

Other uses of the term:-
The term “ataxia” is sometimes used in a broader sense to indicate lack of coordination in some physiological process. Examples include optic ataxia (lack of coordination between visual inputs and hand movements, resulting in inability to reach and grab objects, usually part of Balint’s syndrome, but can be seen in isolation with injuries to the superior parietal lobule, as it represents a disconnection between visual-association cortex and the frontal premotor and motor cortex), and ataxic respiration (lack of coordination in respiratory movements, usually due to dysfunction of the respiratory centres in the medulla oblongata).

You may Click to see:->  Related articles from newspapers, magazines, and more

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ataxia/DS00910
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ataxia
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/162368.php

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Featured Health Alert

Cancer on Sale

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Many Indians like to chew paan — meetha or khatta — after a good meal. It aids digestion, freshens the breath and acts as a mild stimulant. The soporific effects of the heavy meal are counterbalanced. Best of all, it is also believed to have aphrodisiac properties when mixed with the right spices in the right proportion. This may be the reason why it is often offered after a traditional wedding feast to the newlyweds and departing guests.
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Paan may be prepared at home or bought from the ubiquitous paan shop. Making a good paan involves smearing mineral slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) on betel leaves, and then adding spices, flavouring substances and pieces of supari or areca nut. After that, the leaf is folded around these ingredients and held together by a clove. Tobacco may also be added. Some habitual paan consumers push the prepared leaf into the cleft between the cheeks and the gums and leave it there. Chewing paan is dangerous, but when the stuff is mixed with tobacco, it is lethal.

Sometimes tobacco may be flavoured and chewed alone without a betel leaf. Such stuff is known by various names such as paan masala and gutka. Pieces of supari may also be sweetened and eaten separately.

Supari, paan and chewing tobacco are often considered harmless and non-addictive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Such stuff suppresses appetite and produces a “high”. What’s more, the nitosamines (cancer causing chemicals found in tobacco, betel leaves and supari) released can precipitate type 2 diabetes.

The lime in paan acts to keep the active ingredients (polyphenols, alkaloids and tannins) in the betel nut in its freebase form. The tobacco contains nicotine and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Paan may also contain sugar. One of the chemicals in the nut — called arecoline — promotes salivation. This facilitates rapid absorption of this chemical cocktail from under the tongue.

Paan turns the saliva orange red which stains the lips and teeth. Also, the sugar and various other chemicals destroy the enamel of the teeth. They eventually turn black and get ground down to the gums.

The chemicals released while chewing paan irritate the lips and cheeks. They cause changes in the cells, leading them to become precancerous. The lining of the inner cheek turns white (leukoplakia). It may start to bleed or form an ulcer that eats away into the flesh and opens out into the cheek. A tumour may form and protrude into the mouth. As the carcinogen-laden saliva proceeds towards the stomach through the esophagus (tube leading to the stomach), its lining becomes affected and cancer can occur there as well.

Chewing paan is an ancient tradition. The habit leads to cancers of the mouth or esophagus, which set in when the consumer is between 50 and 60 years. Generally, such people also follow an unhealthy lifestyle, a diet with little or no fresh fruits and vegetables, and inadequate exercise. Such cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in males in Assam. For Indian women in general, it is the second biggest reason for cancer. Mouth and esophageal cancer is relatively rare in other parts of the world.

Esophageal cancer is difficult to diagnose in the early stages as the symptoms are often vague and non-specific. Tiredness and fatigue may make the person lethargic. There may be chest pain or unexplained loss of weight which may make the person appear ill. Later, as the tumour grows, it blocks the lumen of the esophagus causing difficulty in swallowing solids.

Treatment of mouth and esophageal cancer involves surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Stents may have to be placed to prevent blockage. In the case of esophageal cancer, a part of the intestine may be used to replace the esophagus. Sometimes a feeding tube may have to inserted through the stomach to bypass the esophagus. Treatment is expensive and long-drawn. Results are fairly good if the ailment is diagnosed early. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

An expert committee formed by the government in September 1997 recommended a blanket ban on the manufacture, distribution and sale of all forms of chewing tobacco like paan masala, gutka and zarda. Unfortunately, supari was left out of the committee’s purview. However, despite legislation these products are openly sold. What’s worse is that teenagers too are becoming addicts.

The government has been dragging its feet over enforcing legislation to regulate use of these carcinogenic and addictive products. This is partly because the paan, supari and zarda industries collectively employ over 50 million people in its raw material procurement, manufacture and distribution networks. These people constitute a large vote bank which successive governments are reluctant to lose. But this is a very dangerous  situation for millions and millions other common people.

The choice is therefore yours — a healthy and happy life or harmful substances that may lead to cancer.

You may click to see:->
Cultural Aspects of Smokeless Tobacco Use and the Impact of Chewing Pan Masala in the Oral Cancer Scenario :

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Yoga

Yoga For Asthma Patients

Regular practice of certain Yoga poses workouts for asthma helps you combat asthma attacks better. There have been debates on how yoga and asthma relate to each other. But studies show that certainly there are definite health benefits of yoga. Sukhasana, is the easiest of the yoga poses for asthma as far as yoga and asthma goes.
click to see

Asthma is a respiratory disease characterized by chronic inflammation, labored or shortened breathing, wheezing, coughing and sticky mucous from chest. Before we get into discussing the details of this disease, a brief snapshot of what follows in the paragraphs below would be helpful. We will discuss the health benefits of yoga with focus on yoga and asthma with a dedicated section on yoga poses for asthma.

The Symptoms of Asthma :-
Symptoms of asthma are all apparent unlike certain other diseases. The first symptom that shows up is inflammation in the trachea (wind pipe, connecting throat to lungs) immediately followed by tightness in the chest or shortness of breath. When the asthma attack goes to unmanageable limits, you feel complete constriction of the wind pipe and chest. At this time it is extremely difficult to breathe. But much before this condition is reached; you have sufficient warning signals such as the wheezing sound while exhaling and inhaling (breathing) due to the presence of sputum in the respiratory system, coughs etc.

What Triggers Asthma:-
Some common triggers leading to asthmatic symptoms are allergens like cold, house dust, pollen, animal dander, irritants such as smokes, chemical fumes etc. For some people, in certain cases, stress from emotional and exercising reasons can trigger the symptoms.

Some Statistics on Asthma:-
Asthma is not known to take death toll unless proper and timely care is not taken. However, the figure of asthma deaths has been on the rise since 1970s in the United States as well as around the globe. There are about 20 million asthma sufferers in the United States itself. What is alarming is slightly less than half of them (about 9 million) are children below 18 years. Out of the total asthmatics, about 70% have other allergies and 10 million of Americans suffer from allergic asthma. Cases of asthma in children have shot up by a mind boggling 160% is the 1980-1994 period. Incidences of reported deaths have mounted to 5000 annually and direct cost of treatment is pegged at $11.5 billion and indirect costs at %4.1 billion. Prevalence is 39% higher in African Americans than white Americans. Total loss of work days is 24.5 million and school days lost is 12.8 million.

Some Yoga Poses that Help in Combating Asthma (Yoga for Health)
Here is a list of yoga poses for asthma. Regular practice of these workouts for asthma helps you combat asthma attacks better. There have been debates on how yoga and asthma relate to each other. But studies show that certainly there are definite health benefits of yoga.

Easy Yoga Pose:click to see
Sukhasana, is the easiest of the yoga poses for asthma as far as yoga and asthma goes. Sitting erect on the floor, cross your legs and clasp your knees easily and that’s it. Breathe easy for 5 minutes.Click to see different poses of sukhasana.

Shoulder Lifts:-click to see
Lie down flat on floor on your back with your hands stretched above head. Relax for a couple of breaths and slowly lift up shoulders towards front together with head crouching abdomen as in curls. Inhale as you get up and exhale when retracting.

Sun Salutation:click to see
Yoga sun salutation (Surya namaskara) is a combination of 12 poses in a sequence beginning and ending in stand-at-ease pose, the 5th and 6th of them being standing on four limbs with body horizontal to the ground while forehead and nose touches ground. The sequential breathing series during the Sun Salutation prepares respiratory mechanism for the asthma combats. This is also helpful for backaches. This is among the top 10 yoga asana to relive asthma.

Kapalabhati Breathing Technique:-click to see
Yoga and asthma cannot distance themselves from pranayama, a highly meditated breathing technique. Kapalabhati requires that you breathe rapidly in short sequences and consciously control the movements of the diaphragm (a membrane separating abdomen from chest.) This exercises the entire respiratory system.

Anuloma Viloma Breathing Technique:click to see
This is known as alternate nostril breathing technique. You inhale through one nostril and exhale through the other with a long retention of the breath in between. This brings breathing a much needed rhythm.

You may click to learn more:->
*Best Yoga Poses for Asthma
*Prevent Common Cold With Yoga
*Be Free From Anxiety With Yoga
*Open Your Heart To Yoga – Yoga For Heart Diseases
*Yoga – Can Help You Shed The Bulk!
*Make Back Troubles Back Off -With Yoga
*Yoga INC – Yoga In The Corporate World

Resources:
http://yoga.am/2009/12/30/yoga-for-asthma-patients/
http://www.yogamiracles.com/yoga-articles/yoga-and-asthma.htm

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