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

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

Radiation sickness

Alternative Names : Radiation poisoning; radiation injury

Definition:
Natural background radiation, known as non-ionizing radiation, such as light, natural radio waves and microwaves generally causes only low levels of damage which can be repaired by the body. However, when the body is exposed to unnaturally high levels of radiation, usually from medical testing and therapy, industrial and manufacturing processes or accidents, and from nuclear weaponry, it cannot combat the damage caused.
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There is great individual variation in how people respond to radiation and the process is not fully understood.Among the cells that are most sensitive to radiation are those that have a high turnover such as cells which line the intestine (crypt cells), white blood cells that fight infection and the cells that make red and white blood cells. The acute impact on these cells leads to the classic early symptoms of radiation sickness. For instance, damage to the intestine cells stimulates nausea, vomiting and dehydration. Chronic radiation exposure leads to an increased risk of cancer and premature ageing.

Radiation penetrates the body and is wholly or partially absorbed by soft and hard tissue.

Radioactive fallout in the form of particulate matter can be swallowed or breathed in.

Symptoms:
There are many symptoms of radiation sickness, and their severity varies greatly depending on the dosage .

The initial symptoms include:

•Nausea
•Vomiting
•Diarrhoea
•Fatigue

These symptoms may be followed by:

•Bleeding from the nose, mouth, gums, and rectum
•Bloody stool
•Bruising
•Confusion
•Dehydration
•Diarrhea
•Fainting
•Fatigue
•Fever
•Hair loss
•Inflammation of exposed areas (redness, tenderness, swelling, bleeding)
•Mouth ulcers
•Nausea and vomiting
•Open sores on the skin
•Skin burns (redness, blistering)
•Sloughing of skin
•Ulcers in the esophagus, stomach or intestines
•Vomiting blood
•Weakness

Your doctor will advise you how best to treat these symptoms. Medications may be prescribed to help reduce nausea, vomiting, and pain. Blood transfusions may be given for anemia. Antibiotics are used to prevent or fight infections.

Causes:
Radiation is the energy released from atoms as either a wave or a tiny particle of matter. Radiation sickness is caused by exposure to a high dose of radiation, such as a high dose of radiation received during an industrial accident. Common exposures to low-dose radiation, such as X-ray examinations, do not cause radiation sickness.

Sources of high-dose radiation :
Possible sources of high-dose radiation include the following:

*An accident at a nuclear industrial facility
*An attack on a nuclear industrial facility
*Detonation of a small radioactive device
*Detonation of a conventional explosive device that disperses radioactive material (dirty bomb)
*Detonation of a standard nuclear weapon
*Radiation sickness occurs when high-energy radiation damages or destroys certain cells in your body. *Regions of the body most vulnerable to high-energy radiation are cells in the lining of your intestinal tract, including your stomach, and the blood cell-producing cells of bone marrow.

Complications:
Radiation-related illnesses tend to show themselves about 10 to 15 years after a radiation disaster. The body’s endocrine, or hormone-secreting, glands appear to be particularly sensitive to radiation.

It is now widely accepted that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster has led to a massive increase in thyroid cancers in the three countries most affected. Already, 680 cases of thyroid cancer have been recorded in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Belarus has shown a 100-fold increase, from 0.3 per million in 1981-85 to 30.6 per million in 1991-94.

You may click to see :1 Million Killed in Chernobyl Disaster

Unicef has noted significant increases in many types of health disorders in Belarus since the disaster. For example, problems of the nervous and sensory organs have increased by 43%; disorders of the digestive organs by 28%; and disorders

Diagnosis:
When a person has experienced known or probable exposure to a high dose of radiation from an accident or attack, medical personnel take a number of steps to determine the absorbed radiation dose. This information is essential for determining how severe the illness is likely to be, which treatments to use and whether a person is likely to survive.

Information important for determining an absorbed dose includes:

*Known exposure. Details about distance from the source of radiation and duration of exposure can help provide a rough estimate of the severity of radiation sickness.

*Vomiting and other symptoms. The time between radiation exposure and the onset of vomiting is a fairly accurate screening tool to estimate absorbed radiation dose. The shorter the time before the onset of this sign, the higher the dose is. The severity and timing of other signs and symptoms may also help medical personnel determine the absorbed dose.

*Blood tests. Frequent blood tests over several days enable medical personnel to look for drops in disease-fighting white blood cells and abnormal changes in the DNA of blood cells. These factors indicate the degree of bone marrow damage, which is determined by the level of an absorbed dose.

*Dosimeter. A device called a dosimeter can measure the absorbed dose of radiation but only if it was exposed to the same radiation event as the affected person.Survey meter. A device such as a Geiger counter can be used to survey people to determine the body location of radioactive particles.

*Type of radiation. A part of the larger emergency response to a radioactive accident or attack would include identifying the type of radiation people have been exposed to. This information would guide some decisions for treating people with radiation sickness.

Treatment:
There is no specific treatment once exposure has occurred but management is generally supportive whilst the body recovers from the damage done – anti-nausea drugs and painkillers can be used to relieve symptoms of radiation sickness. Antibiotics may also be needed to fight off secondary infection.

Blood transfusions may be necessary for patients suffering from anaemia

First Aid:
1.Check the person’s breathing and pulse.
2.Start CPR, if necessary.
3.Remove the person’s clothing and place the items in a sealed container. This stops ongoing contamination.
4.Vigorously wash body with soap and water.
5.Dry the body and wrap with soft, clean blanket.
6.Call for emergency medical help or take the person to nearest emergency medical facility if you can do so safely
7.REPORT EXPOSURE TO EMERGENCY OFFICIALS.

If symptoms occur during or after medical radiation treatments:

1.Tell the health care provider or seek medical treatment.
2.Handle affected areas gently.
3.Treat symptoms or illnesses as recommended by the doctor.

DO NOT:
•DO NOT remain in area where exposure occurred.
•DO NOT apply ointments to burned areas.
•DO NOT remain in contaminated clothing.
•DO NOT hesitate to seek emergency medical treatment.

Prevention
•Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation.
•Persons working in radiation hazard areas should wear badges to measure their exposure levels.
•Protective shields should always be placed over the parts of the body not being treated or studied during x-ray imaging tests or radiation therapy.

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.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/radiation_sickness.shtml
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000026.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/radiation-sickness/DS00432
http://www.thecanadiancharger.com/page.php?id=5&a=92

http://connect.in.com/radiation-sickness/images-radiation-sickness-1-678703799697.html

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Chocolate May Help Prevent Stroke

Those who give chocolate as a gift this Valentine’s Day may be surprised to learn that the sweet treat has taken on a whole new dimension, according to the latest research from McMaster University. The recently released study indicates that chocolate may help lower an individual’s risk of stroke.
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The team of scientists took into account three different studies before reaching this conclusion. One study tracked 44,489 participants and found that those who consumed a serving of chocolate each week decreased their risk of stroke by 22 percent.

While study author Sarah Sahib admitted “more research is needed to determine whether chocolate truly lowers stroke risk,” a second study of 1,169 individuals revealed that consuming 50 grams or more of chocolate each week may decrease stroke risk by 46 percent.

It is believed that some of the antioxidants in chocolate may have health benefits, but this doesn’t mean individuals should abandon a balanced diet and adequate exercise each day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, stroke is the third most frequent cause of death in America today and about 137,000 Americans die from a stroke each year.

Source:Better Health Research.12th Feb.2010

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Quick Surgery Not Helpful After Mild Heart Attack

Does rushing a patient to hospital after a mild heart attack improve his or her chances of survival? It doesn’t help much, says a new  Canadian study led by Indian-origin professor Shamir Mehta at McMaster University in Hamilton near Toronto.
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The study found that rushing patients with a mild heart attack into bypass surgery or angioplasty did not improve their chances of survival, than waiting a few days. Led by Mehta, the researchers found similar rates of death or recurrence of heart attack in patients who underwent surgery quickly after a mild stroke and those who had to wait for a day and longer.

However, patients at high risk of having another stroke or heart attack needed quick surgery, the researchers said. Calling their findings “good news for patients and physicians”, Mehta said: “While we have known for a long time that patients with a full blown heart attack benefit from receiving angioplasty as early as possible, we did not know the optimal timing of angioplasty in patients with threatened or smaller heart attacks.”

“These second group of patients represent a large burden to the health care system and outnumber patients with full blown heart attacks by about 2:1. They often respond well to initial therapy with aspirin and other anti-clotting medications.”

As part of their multi-country study, the researchers picked up 3,031 patients – from 17 countries – who underwent angiography within 24 hours of being admitted to hospital or within 50 hours of admission.

Six months after the surgery, 9.6% of patients who received early treatment suffered another heart attack or died as compared to 11.3% who received delayed surgical intervention.

The study said: “Early intervention did not differ greatly from delayed intervention in preventing the primary outcome, but it did reduce the rate of the composite secondary outcome of death, myocardial infarction, or refractory aeschemia and was superior to delayed intervention in high-risk patients.”

Mehta said: “Patients coming to hospital with small or threatened heart attacks can be treated with aspirin and other anti-clotting medications and be transferred to a catheterisation laboratory a few days later, without undue harm.

“For patients with smaller or threatened heart attacks, only those who are at high risk need to have angioplasty early. The majority can be safely treated a few days later.”

Sources:The Times Of India

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Candy Canes Can Help Fight Germs

The traditional candy canes used for decorating Christmas trees can help fight germs and treat digestive disorders, according to a new study.

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A study led by McMaster University researcher Alex Ford had found that peppermint oil, found in most candy canes, can act as the first line of defence against irritable bowel syndrome.

“Most of the (effective) species are really from the family Lamiaceae, or mint family,” Discovery News quoted Pavel Kloucek, a scientist at the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, as saying.

The researchers hope that peppermint oil, and other potent essential oils, may soon be wafted in vapour form over food to inhibit bacterial growth.

For the new study, Kloucek and his team looked at several essential oils to determine how well they could, in vapour form, kill the bacteria responsible for Listeria, Staph, E. coli, and Salmonella infections, and more.

The new study is the first to bring forth the antimicrobial activity of two other mint family members –Mentha villosa and Faassen’s catnip -along with another non-mint herb, bluebeard.Moreover, essential oils for horseradish, garlic, hyssop, basil, marjoram, oregano, winter savory, and three types of thyme also showed potent bacteria-busting abilities.

Kloucek said that plant essential oils are lipophilic, i.e. they gravitate towards fat.

“And luckily, in the cell membrane of bacteria, there is plenty of fat, which serves as a seal,” he said.

“Essential oils are attracted to this fat and, as their molecules squeeze in between the fat molecules, they cause leakage of the membrane,” he added.

If foods were treated with essential oils to prevent illness, the obvious problem to overcome is the oils’ potent taste. While strong mint flavour is desirable in a candy cane, it might not work well with other foods. The solution, according to Kloucek and his team, is to carefully match the oil with the food.

The findings have been accepted for publication in the journal Food Control.

Sources: The Times Of India

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