Health

“Hypertension”

Hypertension (HTN), or high blood pressure, is a common but serious chronic disease where there is an abnormal increase in pressure in the arteries of the body. Generally HTN does not have symptoms but some people may experience headache or vomiting, or may feel unwell, weak, or even faint when their blood pressure is elevated. A normal Blood pressure (BP) reading is less than 120 over 80 and varies throughout the day and with activity.

Who is at risk:

·     Persons who are overweight or obese

·     Smokers

·     Persons with heart problems, high cholesterol levels,  diabetes

·     Persons with a lot of stress

·     Older persons (although you can get HTN at almost any age)

.     Women on birth control or some diet pills

·     Persons with a family history of HTN

.    Chronic kidney diseases or some other chronic illnesses

How to reduce your risk:

·     Eat a balanced diet by incorporating proteins, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables

·     Exercise

·     Drink a lot of water

·     Quit smoking

·     Reduce your stress levels

·     Reduce fat and salt intake

How to control your BP if you are hypertensive:

·     Visit your doctor regularly

·     Check your blood pressure as needed

·     Reduced your salt intake

·     Take your medication as prescribed

·     Do some form of exercise like mowing the lawn, climbing stairs, playing a sport, etc. unless otherwise indicated by your physician

·     Reduce stress

Treatment:

Lifestyle change, for instance a change in eating habits and exercising, is the first step in controlling your blood pressure. If it is still not controlled with these changes, your doctor will determine what medication is best for you depending on your age and other underlying illnesses, if any. ALWAYS consult your doctor before deciding to change or stop any medication that was prescribed to you.

It is therefore recommended that you visit a doctor at least once a year if you are not hypertensive and more often as indicated by your health care provider if you are to ensure that your BP is controlled.

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High Cholesterol

Also known as high cholesterol, hypercholesterolemia occurs when the total cholesterol level in the blood is above the normal limits. Similar to High blood pressure, there are no symptoms associated with this disorder. The only way to know if you have high cholesterol is by taking a blood test.

Cholesterol Levels: Normal: less than 200 mg/dL Moderately high: between 200 to 239 mg/dL Very High: 240 mg/dL or more

What is Cholesterol? Cholesterol is an important fat found in the body which is a component of the outer layer of the cells. It is produced naturally by the liver and has many important functions which include acting as a filter determining which set of molecules can pass through the cells in the body and which cannot. It converts sunlight to vitamin D which is essential for bone strength. It is very important in hormone production in the body of both men and women. It helps in the production of bile which is also secreted by the liver and stored in the gall bladder and aids in the digestion of food in the intestines. It also acts as a cushion for nerve fibers.

Who is at risk: – Persons with poor eating habits such as a diet high in fat intake. – Overweight and obese persons. – Persons who are not very active or mobile. – Persons with a strong family history of high cholesterol or heart diseases. – Smokers and heavy alcohol drinkers. – Persons with chronic illnesses like High Blood pressure and Diabetes.

Possible complications of high cholesterol: – Atherosclerosis: This is the most common complication of high cholesterol. It is the narrowing of the arteries in the body due to plaque build-up and thickening of the arterial walls. The arteries are those blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart.

– Increase of coronary and heart disease risk which could lead to angina or heart attacks. Angina is a type of chest pain that is caused by a lack of blood flow to the heart muscle, generally due to obstruction or muscle spasms. If left untreated it could progress to a heart attack.

A heart attack or myocardial infarction occurs when cells of the heart die due to an obstruction of blood flow to it via the coronary arteries, (the vessels that take blood to the heart.)

– Stroke: Strokes occur when there is either a hemorrhage (bleed) or blood clot in the vessels of the brain reducing the blood or oxygen flow to it.

Reducing your risk or High Cholesterol Level Like most other diseases the road to recovery or treatment begins with life style changes such as the following: – Lose weight if you are over weight – Become more active: create a weekly exercise routine that best suites you and your daily life – Reduce or eliminate trans fat like fried food from your diet and incorporate more whole grains, fruits and vegetables – Stop smoking – Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption. – Control any underlying diseases you may have.

If all of the above fails, your doctor may decide to start you on medication if you have been diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia depending on your age and any underlying illness that you may already have.

Always consult your doctor before starting any type of medication. Be sure to mention any medical condition you may have or medication you may be currently taking.

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Breast Feeding

Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your new born baby. Breast milk has many advantages to commercial made products or animal milk, not to mention it is the cheapest way to nourish your child. Of course, due to various reasons, not every mother is able to breast feed her child but, when possible, try strictly breastfeeding your baby for at least 4-6 months before introducing supplementary feeds. Your baby will reap the benefit of it later on in life.

How to breast feed

After wiping your breast with a damp clean cloth or unscented baby wipe, turn your baby’s whole body toward you, chest to chest or belly to belly. Touch your baby’s upper lip with your nipple and, when she opens her mouth wide, pull her onto your breast, holding your breast for support. Her mouth should cover not just the nipple but as much of the areola (or the darker area around the nipple) as possible.

Benefits of breastfeeding

– It’s Natural: Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed you baby

– It is economical

– Creates bonding between mother and child

– It is the safest method of feeding

– Breast milk is Sterile

– Adequate temperature: breast milk is at the perfect temperature for baby

-It is healthier

– Breast milk is easier to digest compared to commercial feeds or animal milk like cow’s or goat’s milk

– It is comforting and relaxing: both mother and baby can feel a sense of calm and easy once breast feeding is done correctly

– It is convenient (particularly at nights): instead of dragging yourself out of bed to mix a bottle of formula, the nursing mother can simple turn to her side while lying comfortably in bed and breast feed her baby

How often should you breast feed?

Babies should be fed on demand. The more you nurse, the more milk is produced. Eight to twelve feedings in 24 hours is normal. Feed newborns whenever they show early signs of hunger like increased alertness or activity, mouthing, or rooting around for your nipple Crying is a late sign of hunger, you should start feeding your baby before crying.

During the first few days of baby’s life, you may have to gently wake your baby to begin nursing, and he may fall asleep again mid-feeding. To keep him awake during feedings, you may want to remove a layer of clothing or gently tap the feet or move the head to make sure your baby is eating often enough, wake him up if it’s been 2-3 hours since the last feed.

Getting comfortable

Since feedings can take up to 40 min or more at a time, pick a cozy spot for you and your baby. Hold the baby in a position that won’t leave your arms and back sore. Support the back of your baby’s head with your hand. The position you choose really depends on what’s comfortable for you. If you are sitting, a nursing pillow can be a big help in supporting your baby. Footstools are helpful in getting comfortable.

Don’t start the feeding until you and your baby are comfortable since you will be in that position for a while.

Challenges

– Mother may not be able to breastfeed because they may be taking certain meditation, recuperating from severe illness or surgery, on radiation therapy, not the biological mother etc.

– Mothers must be patient, breast feeding can be stressful or tiring especially for first time mothers and sometimes for baby

– New born may not latch on right away

– Insufficient quantity of milk because of poor diet or eating habits on the mothers part, inadequate fluid intake for sufficient milk production, 1st few days of breast feeding

– Over supply of milk causing block ducts in the breast

– Nursing mother has less freedom to get daily tasks done

– It may be painful for mothers breasts especially if not done correctly or during the first week when the uterus is contracting with every feed

– Inverted or very large nipples can be a challenge for baby making difficult to feed

– Engorgement of breasts when there is an over production of milk or insufficient emptying of the same

– Breast Infection or absent breasts

– Baby with certain illnesses or conditions like jaundice (the yellowing of the skin), cleft lip/palate (abnormality of mouth or lip), reflux, born prematurely may have difficulty breast feeding or restrained to do so for other reasons

– Multiple births

Benefits for Baby

– Breast-fed children are more resistant to diseases and infections early in life compared to formula-fed children

– Breast-fed children are less likely to contract certain diseases later in life

– Easier to digest compared to cow’s milk and formula

– Colostrum (the watery fluid coming from the breasts) produced in the first few days of breastfeeding contains important nutrients and antibodies essential for baby may not be sufficient to fill the new born

Benefits for Mother

– Reduces the risk of certain diseases (breast/ovarian cancer, diabetes, post partum depression, osteoporosis)

– It causes the uterus to contract into its normal position and size

– Promotes weight loss

– Is a form of contraceptive

Alternatives to breastfeeding

– Bottle feeding

– Cup feeding

– Spoon feeding

– Syringe feeding

In summary “Breast is Best” for both the nursing mom and baby. It creates bonding between mother and child and there are so many benefits for both. So when possible breast feed your baby as much as he demands it in the first few months of life. Always consult with your doctor or health care provider before starting any medication if you are breastfeeding to ensure that it is safe.

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10 things you can do to help loose weight

1. Accept the fact that you are over weight: many persons are in denial about there weight and body images and avoid the scale at all costs. They ignore the fact that their clothes are fitting tighter or they are purchasing a size higher every other trip to the clothing store. Most time when reality hits it’s almost too late or they encounter health problems. Don’t be another statistic! Face the facts head on and get a reality check. By realizing where you truly are, you are better able to determine where you need or want to be.

2. Make and write down your weight loss goal. When goals are made, it is easier to visualize where you want to go, that goes for any goal or journey and weight loss is no different. Create your personal goal(s) and write them down on paper, paste it in your bed room in clear vision as a daily reminder of what you want to achieve. If possible get pictures of persons with similar weights with which you hope to obtain and place it next to your written goals. Look at your notes and pictures everyday and visualize yourself at that weight. This should give you the extra motivation and encouragement you need in obtain that goal.

3. Take baby steps: Many people start off with a bang when they take on a weight loss journey but seem to loose their way or the stimulus at some point before arriving at their goal. Its not a race so take small steps making small changes gradually. Eventually you can realize all the things you are aiming for once you are focused on exactly what you intend to achieve. At times you may need encouragement from a friend or relative. Reach out to someone who is supportive in your journey to help you get back on track. You can also track your progress with a journal, with pictures or video logging. It is a great way to see how far you have gone and how much more you need to go in your weight loss journey. If you can literally see the progress you are making, you will be more encouraged to continue to the end.

4. Reduce your soda intake: Soda can be addictive, especially those with caffeine like coke. The truth of the matter is that soda is nothing short of carbonated water, sugar and artificial colour. It has no nutritional benefits and can be used as an energy booster in high performance athletes.  It is never advisable to go cold turkey because you will end up craving it. If you are used to drinking 7 sodas a week try cutting it down by 1 or 2 gradually over a few weeks and over time you will notice that you desire for it will start to decrease.

5. Drink more water: Water has many benefits for the body including keeping the skin well hydrated, helping to rid the body of potential harmful toxins and when substituted for soda and drinks full of sugar can promote weight loss. It is recommended that we drink 8-12 glasses of water daily to help keep our skin supple and soft.

6. Reduce the carbohydrate intake and Increase fruit and vegetable portions: There is a misconception that meat causes weight gain but that is a myth. Meat especially white lean meats like chicken breasts and turkey are full of protein which is essential particularly for persons who are lifting weights and those who play high intense sports. The actual culprits of weight gain are the carbohydrate rich foods like white bread, rice, pasta, white potatoes called the complex carbohydrates and sweets, jams and jellies known as simple carbohydrates. Why are they the culprits? The reason is that carbohydrates are sugars which will eventually be converted to energy. The problem with this is if the energy is not being properly used up, it will be stored in the body. If you are not an active person or not exercising  then you will be gaining weight. That is why these are the types of food that should be drastically reduced as much as possible, in turn you will see the weight changes. You can substitute protein intake with peas, beans and eggs

7. Make healthier food choices: Food full of trans fat and salt are bad for your body in more than one ways. Staying clear of fried foods, processed and tin foods can make a big difference in your health. They foods mentioned are usually loaded with fat, cholesterol and salt and can contribute to serious health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack and stroke. Making healthier choices for instance eating more raw foods like carrots and lettuce, unsalted snacks like nuts and fresh fruits will significantly help you not only with loosing weight but getting a healthier body.

8. Read the labels: This is one thing we can all do that must people don’t do. Just because the front label says all natural that doesn’t make it so. You must read the back label for the fine prints, as it were, for especially the sugar, salt, fat and cholesterol levels. For an adult based on a 2000 caloric intake you should use the follow as a guide line:

Total Fat grams (g) 65
Sugar grams (g) 40
Cholesterol milligrams (mg) 300
Sodium milligrams (mg) 2400

9. Take the stairs: stair climbing is an easy but an effective form of exercise that can assist you in loosing a few extra pounds. Research has shown that stair climbing can be more effective than jogging thus burning more calories in the same time period. Try using the stairs instead of the elevator to get the heart pumping, burning more calories at the same time.

10. Ten minute exercises can make a big difference. There is no specific time to exercise. It all depends on the individuals preference and lifestyle that will determine the time of day. But it has been proven that as little at ten minute of exercise each day can make a big difference in the pounds you shed. Of coarse if you are heavier than you ought to be you will need to step it up a notch of at least 30 minutes everyday. Exercises can include playing a sport, cardio or aerobic work outs, weight lifting, bike riding, swimming and the list goes on. The trick is to find an activity that you will enjoy so that it doesn’t become a chore or task to do. If you are excited about the exercise you are going to do, you will be more willing to take the time out to get it done while getting fit at the some time.

Remember losing weight is not just about getting rid of the extra pounds but it is a life style change with a mind and body shift that is a healthier root to take. It wouldn’t always be easy, especially at the beginning but I urge you to stick with it and in time it will become routine for you.

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 stress kills!

Did you know that stress can LITERALLY make you sick? Of course we all encounter some form of stress like being stuck in traffic or the loss of a love one or friend. But continuous, intense mental and physical stress can kill you. The problem is not the stress itself but how we respond to it. This is so because we see different things to be stressful. So what is this ‘stress’ that we all talk about and we all experience? Bear in mind that it can be both positive and negative.

Stress is defined as the body’s response or reaction to a particular situation. The effects of stress can affect you mentally, physically and it can affect your behaviour. An example of mental stress can be the trauma a soldier undergoes after returning from war and physical stress can be in the form of a major operation that you have at the hospital.

What would our lives be without stress, actually quite boring indeed! Stress is actually designed to challenge us thus making us better. What makes the difference is how we cope with the stressful event that we face.

I would like to share the physical effects that stress can have on the body, highlighting 3 common diseases that can be caused. And in turn share 3 ways you can start today in order to help you deal with the stress you feel.

The 1st illness I would like to talk about is hypertension, also called high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a disease in which the pressure in the arteries of the body increases. The arteries are those structures in the body that carries blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. Hypertension can affect many organs and structures in the body including the brain, the heart, the kidneys and of course the arteries. The scary thing about high blood pressure is that it is a silent killer. It has little to no symptoms associated with it as other diseases do. Some persons, however, get headaches, pain at the back of the neck, may get lightheaded, dizzy or even faint. The only way to know for sure if you are hypertensive is by checking you blood pressure and a medical care practitioner will tell you whether your recorded pressure is normal for your age, activity or underline health status. You could be told that you have high blood pressure if you have 3 consecutive high readings. Not to worry you can manage your high pressure by adjusting your diet before a doctor will consider adding medication.  High blood pressure can be very serious and should not be taken lightly. It can lead to serious problems like kidney failure, damage to the eye, and a heart attack, which is the 2nd illness I would like to highlight that can be caused by stress.

A heart attack or myocardial infarction happens when there isn’t sufficient blood flow to the vessels that lead to and surround the heart. When there is a consistent decrease or absence of blood flow for a long period of time the cells of the heart muscle become damaged or die. Some of the symptoms may include, severe chest pain, in the middle of the chest that can move to the left arm, shoulder, jaw or back. It is usually described as the worse pain ever that can even wake you out of your sleep, lasting more than 20 minutes. You could also feel faint, dizzy, have profuse sweating or feel shortness of breath. But be aware that in women, older persons and people with diabetes may have little or no chest pain. If you think you or someone you know might be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital.

The 3rd illness that can be caused by stress is stomach ulcers. These types of ulcers are also called stress ulcers. Stomach ulcers are caused when the inner lining of the stomach eats away from the acid that is naturally produced in the stomach. This acid is essential as it aids in the digestion process. As the lining erodes it can cause excruciating pain or discomfort in the upper area of the tummy. Other problems include excessive belching and the feeling to vomiting. People with stress ulcers can reduce the damage already done by changing their eating habits and of course reducing or coping better with their stressful situation

So what can we do to reduce our stress level or respond in more favourablely to stressful events or situations.

  1. Seek a support group or professional help: many persons don’t deal well with stress or are not quite sure what to do. Depending on your particular situation, it could be helpful to reach out to someone who is in your situation or somebody who can better understand. It is best to seek someone who is well knowledgeable about the topic and in which you can confined. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine who you can confine in, but there are different groups and organizations where you can reach out too to get help. Seek and you shall find.
  2. Relaxations techniques: there are many different ways you can relax. You have to determine for yourself what techniques works best for you. These can include exercises including aerobics, yoga, walks, playing a sport, reading a good book, going to the beach etc.
  3. And a surprisingly, eating water melons: water melon is a fruit used all over the world and in every culture. There are over 1200 varieties of watermelons. Apart from hydrating your body because water melons contains92% water and  6% sugar, and like other fruits are rich in vitamin C, very importantly they contain a substance called citrulline. Recent studies have discovered that this very important substance that relaxes the blood vessels in the body thus improving blood flow. When the blood vessels are relaxed, it allows for more blood to flow to the vital organs and increasing oxygen flow to these parts. In fact, Dr Bhimu Patil, director of Texas A&M’s Fruit and vegetable Improvement Center says that water melon may actually have the same effects of Viagra.

Read Dr Patil full story here  http://agnews.tamu.edu/showstory.php?id=554

So how are you coping with your stress or stressful situation? Share your tips!

 

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