Sunday, December 27, 2009
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America among both men and women, yet it is one of the most preventable of modern diseases. Heart disease is a blanket term for many conditions, including coronary heart disease, congenital heart disease, ischemic heart disease and hypertensive heart disease.
Ischemic heart disease, or coronary heart disease is caused by atherosclerosis in the arteries of the heart. Atherosclerosis occurs when arteries become lined with deposits of cholesterol, fat and calcium (called plaque) causing a loss in elasticity of the walls of the blood vessels. As a result, arteries become stiff and narrow which may cause an insufficiency of blood supply reaching the muscles of the heart. This can lead to angina and heart attack.
Angina is pain or discomfort in the chest caused by an loss of blood flow to the heart muscle. It may be a squeezing pain or feel like pressure. It can also cause pain in the arms, shoulders, neck, jaw or back. It may even mimic indigestion. Angina is a symptom of coronary heart disease and there are three types of angina: stable, unstable and variant. Having any form of angina could mean you are more likely to suffer a heart attack, but unstable angina, that occurs without physical exertion and is not relieved by rest or medication, is an indicator that a heart attack may be imminent.
If you suffer any of the symptoms of a heart attack, seek emergency care by calling 911 within five minutes, do not wait. The symptoms of a heart attack include:
* Chest pain or discomfort in the chest
* Discomfort or pain in other areas of the body, such as the neck, jaw, arms, back or stomach
* Shortness of breath
* Feeling faint
You can reduce your risk of heart disease or prevent it by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. Following these simple guidelines will help you avoid being another heart disease statistic:
* Don't smoke
* Maintain a healthy weight
* Eat a diet low in fats and include a variety of fruits and vegetables
* Have your cholesterol tested
* Know your blood pressure.
* Be checked for diabetes
* Get regular exercise. You should aim for 30 minutes of exercise per week.
Other conditions such as diabetes, blood pressure and high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. If you have any of these conditions, you should get regular check-ups, follow your doctor's advice and take any medication prescribed. Taking the right steps today will ensure healthier tomorrows.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Although Hormone Replacement Therapy has been vindicated of many charges laid at its feet in past years, and is now again recommended for many women, there is a new and disturbing set of studies that indicate it may still pose a risk to women, this time in the area of cognitive function.
The new studies showed that in women 65 and over who took HRT, there was a greater shrinking of brain mass in the frontal lobe and the hippocampus. Shrinking of the hippocampus is considered to be a risk factor for dementia.
Reseachers advise that women who are at risk or show signs of cognitive difficulties or dementia before taking HRT are probably at greater risk than those who have no symptoms prior to being on hormone therapy. However, doctors are advised to prescribe HRT only if necessary for symptom treatment and for the shortest time period possible to avoid acceleration of cognitive deficits in older women.