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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

Other Names: Acute radiation syndrome or Radiation poisoning.

Description:
Radiation sickness is damage to our body caused by a large dose of radiation often received over a short period of time (acute). The amount of radiation absorbed by the body — the absorbed dose — determines how sick we will be. It is not caused by common imaging tests that use low-dose radiation, such as X-rays or CT scans.

Radiation sickness is serious and often fatal, but it is very rare. Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, during World War II, most cases of radiation sickness have occurred after nuclear industrial accidents, such as the 1986 explosion and fire that damaged the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Ukraine.

The amount of radiation our body gets is measured in an international unit called a sievert (Sv). Symptoms of radiation sickness show up when we are exposed to levels of more than 500 millisieverts (mSv), or half a sievert. More than 4 to 5 Sv is likely to be fatal. The workers who got radiation sickness at Chernobyl received doses that measured 700 mSv to 13 Sv.

Natural radiation is everywhere — in the air, the water, and materials like brick or granite. You typically get only about 3 mSv — three one-thousandths of a sievert — of radiation from these natural sources in a year.

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Man-made sources of radiation from things like X-rays add about another 3 mSv. A CT (computerized tomography) scan, which involves several X-rays taken from different angles, delivers about 10 mSv. People who work in the nuclear industry aren’t allowed to be exposed to more than 50 mSv a year.

Symptoms:
Early symptoms of ARS typically includes nausea and vomiting, headaches, fatigue, fever, and a short period of skin reddening. These symptoms may occur at radiation doses as low as 0.35 grays (35 rad). These symptoms are common to many illnesses, and may not, by themselves, indicate acute radiation sickness

Classically acute radiation syndrome is divided into three main presentations: hematopoietic, gastrointestinal, and neurological/vascular. These syndromes may or may not be preceded by a prodrome. The speed of onset of symptoms is related to radiation exposure, with greater doses resulting in a shorter delay in symptom onset.[2] These presentations presume whole-body exposure and many of them are markers that are not valid if the entire body has not been exposed. Each syndrome requires that the tissue showing the syndrome itself be exposed. The gastrointestinal syndrome is not seen if the stomach and intestines are not exposed to radiation. Some areas affected are:

Hematopoietic. This syndrome is marked by a drop in the number of blood cells, called aplastic anemia. This may result in infections due to a low amount of white blood cells, bleeding due to a lack of platelets, and anemia due to too few red blood cells in the circulation. These changes can be detected by blood tests after receiving a whole-body acute dose as low as 0.25 grays (25 rad), though they might never be felt by the patient if the dose is below 1 gray (100 rad). Conventional trauma and burns resulting from a bomb blast are complicated by the poor wound healing caused by hematopoietic syndrome, increasing mortality.

Gastrointestinal. This syndrome often follows absorbed doses of 6–30 grays (600–3,000 rad). The signs and symptoms of this form of radiation injury include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. Vomiting in this time-frame is a marker for whole body exposures that are in the fatal range above 4 grays (400 rad). Without exotic treatment such as bone marrow transplant, death with this dose is common. The death is generally more due to infection than gastrointestinal dysfunction.

Neurovascular. This syndrome typically occurs at absorbed doses greater than 30 grays (3,000 rad), though it may occur at 10 grays (1,000 rad). It presents with neurological symptoms such as dizziness, headache, or decreased level of consciousness, occurring within minutes to a few hours, and with an absence of vomiting. It is invariably fatal.

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.

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:
Having radiation sickness can contribute to both short-term and long-term mental health problems, such as grief, fear and anxiety about:

  • Experiencing a radioactive accident or attack
  • Mourning friends or family who haven’t survived
  • Dealing with the uncertainty of a mysterious and potentially fatal illness
  • Worrying about the eventual risk of cancer due to radiation exposure

Diagnosis:
Diagnosis is typically made based on a history of significant radiation exposure and suitable clinical findings. An absolute lymphocyte count can give a rough estimate of radiation exposure. Time from exposure to vomiting can also give estimates of exposure levels if they are less than 10 Gray (1000 rad)

Treatment:
The treatment goals for radiation sickness are to prevent further radioactive contamination; treat life-threatening injuries, such as from burns and trauma; reduce symptoms; and manage pain.

Decontamination:
Decontamination involves removing external radioactive particles. Removing clothing and shoes eliminates about 90 percent of external contamination. Gently washing with water and soap removes additional radiation particles from the skin.

Decontamination prevents radioactive materials from spreading more. It also lowers the risk of internal contamination from inhalation, ingestion or open wounds.

Treatment for damaged bone marrow:
A protein called granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, which promotes the growth of white blood cells, may counter the effect of radiation sickness on bone marrow. Treatment with this protein-based medication, which includes filgrastim (Neupogen), sargramostim (Leukine) and pegfilgrastim (Neulasta), may increase white blood cell production and help prevent subsequent infections.

Treatment for internal contamination:
Some treatments may reduce damage to internal organs caused by radioactive particles. Medical personnel would use these treatments only if you’ve been exposed to a specific type of radiation. These treatments include the following:

  • Potassium iodide (ThyroShield, Iosat). This is a nonradioactive form of iodine.

Iodine is essential for proper thyroid function. If you’re exposed to significant radiation, your thyroid will absorb radioactive iodine (radioiodine) just as it would other forms of iodine. The radioiodine is eventually cleared from the body in urine.

If potassium iodide is taken, it may fill “vacancies” in the thyroid and prevent the absorption of radioiodine. Potassium iodide isn’t a cure-all and is most effective if taken within a day of exposure.

  • Prussian blue (Radiogardase). This type of dye binds to particles of radioactive elements known as cesium and thallium. The radioactive particles are then excreted in feces. This treatment speeds up the elimination of the radioactive particles and reduces the amount of radiation cells may absorb.
  • Diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA). This substance binds to metals. DTPA binds to particles of the radioactive elements plutonium, americium and curium. The radioactive particles pass out of the body in urine, thereby reducing the amount of radiation absorbed.

We may get some Supportive treatment for the following:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Burns
  • Sores or ulcers

A person who has absorbed very large doses of radiation has little chance of recovery. Depending on the severity of illness, death can occur within two days or two weeks. People with a lethal radiation dose will receive medications to control pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. They may also benefit from psychological or pastoral care.

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:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acute_radiation_syndrome
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/radiation-sickness/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20377061
https://www.webmd.com/cancer/radiation-sickness-facts#1

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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