The New York Times published an article on Dec. 26 reporting that the American Medical Association reminded doctors to put their patient’s welfare first. To learn more…
Heart disease is a collective term for the more than 50 different diseases that can affect the heart. Diseases of the heart are the number one cause of death in America. It is therefore important to be informed about the types of heart disease that can occur and the symptoms and treatments associated with each one.
1. Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary Artery Disease affects more than 13 million people in the United States, and is the number one cause of death in America. It occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries and causes blockages. These blockages restrict blood flow to the heart, preventing oxygen and other nutrients from reaching the heart and allowing it to pump properly.
As an individual ages, plaque builds up in the walls of his coronary arteries. Chemicals are released from this plaque that can promote healing, but they also make the blood vesselâ€™s inner walls sticky. This can cause other substances traveling in the bloodstream to stick to the walls and cause blockages. These blockages can become so severe that they may totally stop the flow of blood from reaching the heart. If this happens, a heart attack occurs.
2. Congenital Heart Disease
Another common form of heart disease is congenital heart disease. This is not something that develops over time, but is a condition that an individual is born with. It is a defect in the heart that is present before birth. Symptoms of the disease may not appear until later in adulthood and include shortness of breath, especially when participating in strenuous exercises.
There are different types of congenital heart disease that affect different parts of the heart. Some of these include heart valve defects, atrial or ventricular defects and abnormalities in the heart muscle.
Congenital heart disease in an unborn fetus can be caused by numerous things including rubella, the use of drugs or smoking during pregnancy and Down Syndrome.
3. Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive Heart Failure is the number one reason why Americans 65 and older are hospitalized. Nearly 6 million Americans are affected by this condition. The term failure may be a bit of a misnomer in that the heart does not stop working completely. Rather, it pumps much more weakly than normal. Blood is moved through the body at a slower rate, causing pressure in the heart to increase. When this happens, the heartâ€™s chambers may either stretch in order to hold more blood or become stiff and thickened. This can help to keep blood pumping through the body, but eventually the heart muscles will weaken and stop being able to pump efficiently.
When the heart is unable to pump efficiently, the kidneys may begin to retain the bodyâ€™s fluid and salt. This fluid can build up in the body and cause it to become congested. This is why the disease is known as congestive heart failure.
4. Pulmonary Heart Disease
Pulmonary heart disease is something that affects the heart and lungs. The blood flow to the lungs is either not adequate or blocked completely. This results in pressure building on the lungs. Symptoms of this disease include shortness of breath, fainting and chest pain.
Pulmonary heart disease is often misdiagnosed, allowing the disease to progress to later stages where it is extremely difficult to treat. When caught early, there are treatments available that can give the patient a good prognosis.
5. Rheumatic Heart Disease
Rheumatic heart disease is the presence of abnormalities in the valves of the heart that are caused by rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever often causes the heart to become inflamed. This inflammation can lead to damage of the heart valves. The condition tends to worsen over time, especially if there are recurring episodes of rheumatic fever.
Rheumatic heart disease can drastically increase the heartâ€™s workload, eventually leading to heart failure. It commonly involves atrial fibrillation which can lead to blood clots and stroke. This is why patients with this disease are often put on a regime of blood thinners.
Once an individual has been diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease, it is vitally important that he has regular physical examinations in order to monitor the condition of his heart. Since the disease tends to progress over time, eventually the patient will most likely require valve replacement surgery.
These are just 5 of the more than 50 types of heart disease that affect the heart. As with virtually every disease, early detection is important for improving the patientâ€™s prognosis.
Lauren Hill writes for Cardiac Vascular & Thoracic Surgery Associates (CVTSA), a VA surgery group specializing in robotic, heart/ lung transplant and open heart surgeries. Take a look here and see how they can help you.
Summer is supposed to be about spending time in the great outdoors soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the fresh air. However, if you are one of the millions of allergy sufferers living in this country, instead of anticipating spring and summer gardening, water sports, or evenings on the back porch, you are probably dreading the sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes that allergies can bring on. While there are many medications available for combating seasonal allergies on your local drugstoreâ€™s shelf, many of them have unwanted side effects that can sometimes be worse than the allergies themselves. Luckily, there are several natural ways you can fight allergies that wonâ€™t make you sleepy or give you dry eyes.
Saltwater Rinse with a Neti Pot
In India, generations have relied on the time-tried method of rinsing nasal passages with a saltwater solution to prevent pesky allergens from causing the snuffles. A neti pot is a small container with a long spout, akin to the Genieâ€™s bottle from the popular Disney film, Aladdin, and is used to deliver a salty rinse to the inside of your nose, which helps rid your nasal passages of pollen grains that can put your immune system on high alert. Just mix up a teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm water (not too hot!) and pour it into a neti. Then, standing with your head over the sink, tilt your head slightly to one side. Put the netiâ€™s spout into one nostril and pour about half the saltwater solution in, letting it drain through the opposite nose opening. Tilt your head to the other side and repeat with the remaining solution. Do so about twice daily during peak allergy season for best results.
Why only treat allergies after the fact? Quercetin, a bioflavonoid found in many common foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, and broccoli, can help build up your immune system and prevent it from releasing histamine, that allergy symptom causing compound. Of course, to get enough into your system to prevent allergies, a supplement is in order. Typically, around 1,000 milligrams a day is the suggested dose, and youâ€™ll need to take it starting a month and half before allergy season begins to build up a sufficient reserve. However, if you have liver disease, skip this remedy as it may cause complications, and remember: no matter the supplement, itâ€™s best to consult with a medical doctor before adding any to your daily regime.
Stinging Nettle Supplements
Most over the counter drugs used to treat allergy symptoms usually have a histamine blocker as the active ingredient. Blocking histamine production is one way to tamp down on allergy symptoms, but you donâ€™t have to buy allergy medications to get it. Urtica dioica, or stinging nettle as it is commonly known, is a natural histamine blocker that doesnâ€™t have the same side effects that manufactured drugs often do. Supplements containing extracts from freeze dried leaves are usually the easiest way to reap the benefits of this common weed, but you can also make teas and tinctures from the plant itself. Just be careful to wear gloves when handling the plantâ€”itâ€™s covered in small hairs that will cause your skin to swell and itch upon contact.
Petasites hybridus, or butterbur, is another weed that has antihistamine properties. In a study published in the British Journal of Medicine, researchers from Switzerland found that patients who took supplements four times a day for a grand total of 32 milligrams received allergy relief comparable to that provided by the active ingredient in popular allergy medication Zrytec. However, as butterbur grows mostly in Western Europe, it can be a bit harder to find in the United States. In addition, butterbur is related to ragweed, so use caution if you have ragweed allergies as it may actually intensify your symptoms rather than relieve them.
Living with allergies is tough enough without all the side effects and other problems that some allergy medications may cause. Take control of your health and see if natural remedies donâ€™t provide a better solution to your allergy problem. Rinse out your nasal passages with salt water using an Indian neti pot so you can breathe easy. Strengthen your immune system and reduce the chances that you will develop allergies before they begin by taking quercetin supplements. Try natural antihistamines like stinging nettle or butterbur for side-effect free allergy relief. After all, nature gives you allergies, so doesnâ€™t it make sense that she might provide the antidote, too?
Lauren Hill is a freelance writer, wife and mother. She is constantly on a quest to keep her family healthy and enjoys writing on the subject. She is a contributing author for Solstice Medicine Company, a traditional Chinese medicine company offering herbal remedies for allergies, cold/flu, muscle and pain relief as well as arthritis. Go here to see the many options they offer.
Varicose veins are blood vessels that have become enlarged and twisted over time. They can appear close to the surface of the skin in hues that range from purple to blue, and while they occur most frequently in the legs and feet, varicose veins can be found anywhere in the body. They are more common in the legs and feet because of the pressure that is placed on veins as we stand and walk in upright positions. Varicose veins are not only unattractive to look at they can be painfully uncomfortable.
Various Kinds of Varicosities
A patient seeking treatment for varicose veins would usually come to a medical office like mine and consult with a vascular surgeon. General surgeons may also be able to help individuals with varicose veins, but a vascular surgeon has more experience treating them and is specialized in the treatment of all blood vessels. In fact, I treat only patients with vein and artery problems. You may wonder if there are different classifications of varicose veins, and to you I would respond, â€œyes.â€ There are three general kinds of varicose veins and they include the following:
- Trunk varicose veins
- Reticular varicose veins
- Telangiectasia varicose veins
Trunk Varicose Veins
Varicose veins that are thick, bumpy, and appear to be close to the surface of the skin are probably trunk varicose veins. These blood vessels are often pretty large and long, and they can be unpleasant to behold. Some patients report no pain or discomfort associated with these varicosities, however, it is pretty common to hear others report that they are not only unattractive but they are also painful.
I met a patient for the first time in the early spring one year. She was expecting her third child and complained of painful varicose veins that had appeared on her calves. I explained that one of the risk factors to developing varicosities is pregnancy. A womanâ€™s body changes so rapidly during pregnancy to accommodate for a growing baby. Itâ€™s common to pack on 15-20 pounds during a healthy pregnancy, and oftentimes women can gain more. Weight gain paired with the extreme pressure that a pregnant uterus places on everything within the abdominal cavity and below it can easily cause otherwise healthy blood vessels to become varicose veins.
Reticular Varicose Veins
Reticular varicose veins are frequently grouped together, twisting around one another and becoming a tangle of vessels. They are also usually red in appearance. If they are in your legs, you might also experience the following symptoms in addition to seeing them:
- Legs that feel heavy and achy
- Muscle cramp sensations that occur frequently
- Swelling in the feet and ankles
Telangiectasia Varicose Veins
The last class of varicosities is the telangiectasia varicose vein. Of the three types of varicose veins, patients report the least amount of discomfort from the telangiectasia veins. They are also known as spider veins, or thread veins, and they are usually quite small and fine in appearance. Thatâ€™s not to say that patients do not want to have treatments that would eradicate them, but they are generally not as sinister in nature as trunk or reticular varicose veins. Spider veins are commonly found on the face and on the legs.
Causes of Varicose Veins
To clearly define the causes of varicose veins, I must first explain how blood vessels operate. Blood vessels have tiny valves that open and close allowing blood to flow smoothly in one direction. Unfortunately when these valves are damaged blood can flow backwards and can pool in blood vessels. As the blood pools, pressure is created that can cause the blood vessel to become enlarged and swollen, or varicose. Risk factors for developing varicose veins include:
- Being overweight
- Old age
Varicose Vein Treatments
Fortunately, varicose veins do not usually cause serious health concerns. They can be rather unsightly and sometimes they can be downright painful. Treatment options do exist if a patient would like her varicose veins eradicated.
- Compression socks. These widely available at your local pharmacy, but I think it finding medical grade quality in a compression stocking can provide you with better relief from painful varicose veins. The pharmacist at the pharmacy can help you determine the proper size and fit for your feet and legs.
- Phlebectomy. This involves removing segments of problem blood vessels. Usually this can be done in an out-patient setting without the use of general anesthesia. It involves two or three small incisions, and the removal of the affected blood vessels.
- Sclerotherapy. This is another out-patient procedure in which a vascular surgeon would inject substances that seal varicose veins off permanently. After time the blood vessel fades and can be a lot less apparent.
Treating Varicose Veins
If you suffer from painful varicose veins in your legs, or even elsewhere, there is help. A vascular surgeon can prescribe compression stockings, or perform a phlebectomy or sclerotherapy. Treatment options are available for those who seek them.
Lauren Hill is freelance writer and long time sufferer of varicose veins. She is a contributing author for Cardiac Vascular & Thoracic Surgery Associates (CVTSA), a Virginia surgical group specializing in robotic, heart transplant and vascular surgeries. Go here to see how they can help you.
You might be sitting there, wondering what could be so dangerous about aging. Donâ€™t elderly folks just watch TV and crochet in their lazy chairs all day? The truth is that there are many aspects of life that make it dangerous for a person as they grow older. From physical to emotional to financial harm, there is so much that comes at a person as they age. If you have parents that are getting up there, they might need a little help and a little protection from you. The following are some ways that you can keep your parents safe in their old age.
- Monitor Their Health. Sudden changes in health are very common in elderly people. The bad news is that a lot of elderly folks donâ€™t recognize that there is a problem. Have a conversation with your parent about attending their doctor appointments so that you can understand their health issues. Know what their prescriptions and other medications are and how often they should take them. Check up on them to be sure they are taking the right amount and that nobody else is taking advantage of their prescriptions. If you are going to get professional health care help for your parent, do your homework. Contact the Better Business Bureau, do a criminal background check, ask for licensing, etc. You can never be too careful when it comes to having a stranger in your parentâ€™s home.
- Monitor Their Finances. Unfortunately, the elderly seem to get taken advantage of quite a bit when it comes to their finances. Regularly review their credit card activity and reports. Look over their bank statements. See if their checks have been written out with a different handwriting. Ask your parents to communicate with you about any large purchases that they make, or about any over-the-phone purchases that they want to make. Set up some rules and some boundaries so that they will have to check with you before making those large purchases.
- Monitor Their Relationships. There are people who will take advantage of them in other ways as well. If your parent is single, they could use poor judgment and end up in a relationship that could be potentially dangerous and abusive. Someone could become close to them so that they can drain the bank account or so that your parent will pay off their debt. Even family members might get extra close to your parent so that they can be the beneficiary in the will. Make an honest assessment of all relationships that your parent is in so that they do not get taken for a ride and emotionally hurt in the process.
- Monitor Their Emotions. Talk to your parents on a regular basis so that you have a good idea of how they are feeling emotionally. It might be hard for them to be dealing with all that they deal with as elderly folks. If they make suicidal comments, always take it seriously and contact their doctor for more information. If they are lonely, set up visits with family members to boost their spirits. If they want to be alone, let them be alone in a safe environment. Being in a good place emotionally could be one of the biggest things that gets them through their elderly years.
- Monitor Their Environment. Some elderly people have a hard time getting around as they get older. It could be time for you to change their environment a little bit. If there are too many obstacles in the house, they could fall and get hurt. Clean it up a bit, while making sure it is to their liking at the same time. Add a grab bar near the toilet and the shower. Put railings in the hallways. Make sure there is a phone in every room so that if they fall, they will have a better chance at getting help quicker. Is their eyesight failing? It might be time to have a discussion about driving the car.
These things are always hard to deal with. They are hard conversations to have. The good news is that with all the love you can muster, you can have these conversations and keep your parents safe as they try to stay independent through the aging process. Itâ€™s something that everyone will have to face someday, and by helping your parents through it, you can be better prepared for your own future.
Lauren Hill is a freelance writer, daughter, wife and mother who writes on every day topics that affect the lives of the people around her. She is a contributing author for Lift Caregiving, a free service for caregivers offering support, local resources and connections. Go here to see how they can help you in your caregiving situation.