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Stress vs Stroke: What are the Differences?

Individuals experience stress in different levels and intensities throughout the course of their life. There are many symptoms that may be mistaken for having a stroke but are attributed to stress. Often, these are migraines or headaches that are caused by the dilation of blood vessels. More often it is a certain nerve in the brain that causes extreme stress when stimulated during a migraine [1].

Intense migraines have a tendency of causing weakness and a nauseating feeling. This is often confused or misinterpreted as a stroke in severe cases. It is vital that one seeks emergency medical help if they are experiencing vision loss, experiencing weakness on one side of your body, or experiencing trouble walking, talking or completing small tasks.

Usually a person knows their own body better than anyone else and they are able to distinguish an extreme symptom from a less severe one [2]. For example, a person who regularly experiences throbbing stress headaches will react differently than someone who is experiencing a throbbing headache for the first time. In cases where symptoms seem extreme, there may be a risk that the person is experiencing a stroke. Using the

You can use the mnemonic device, Face, Arms, Speech, Time (F.A.S.T.) to check for a stroke. Two ways are to ask the person to smile (to check if one side of their face droops) or asking them to say a simple sentence (to see if they slur their words).  These indicators are good indicators that a person is having a stroke and emergency medical attention should be sought right away.

[1] What’s happening during a Migraine? Levy, Suzanne. Health. Retrieved from: http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20327068,00.html

[2] Is this stress or a stroke? Hill, Lisa O’Neill. WebMd. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/stroke/features/is-it-stress-or-stroke

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Cardioversion: The Way to Reset the Rhythm of the Heart

Atrial fibrillation is a complication of the heart that has been known to increase the risk of stroke. It is often referred to as an irregular heartbeat because it is usually a case of a mismatched and rapid heart rhythm [1]. When a patient experiences this phenomenon it is usually because the upper and lower chambers of their heart are not synchronized. Therefore, they tend to beat chaotically and episodes of fibrillation tend to happen spontaneously. Symptoms of atrial fibrillation include shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, confusion and chest pain. Often, atrial fibrillation is left undetected and a physical examination is needed in order to narrow down possible conditions and causes.

The most common way to treat irregular heartbeat is cardioversion [2]. This procedure most effectively treats arrhythmia, also known as irregular heart rhythms. One of the possible ways to conduct cardioversion is electrical cardioversion. This procedure involves administering an electrical shock through patches placed on the patient’s chest. This shock momentarily stops the heart from functioning, so when the heart starts pumping again it will pump more rhythmically.

Another form of cardioversion is performed by using drugs. This procedure involves the patient taking prescription medications known as arrhythmic medications. Depending on each case, the doctor usually prescribes an appropriate dosage which works towards resetting the heart rhythm to beat rhythmically. This procedure is ideally performed in a hospital so the doctor can suggest alternate treatments if one of the medications does not work. Also, it is helpful if the heart rate of the patient is continuously monitored; it allows the doctor to see the effects of the medication right away.

Sources:

[1]Atrial Fibrillation. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/atrial-fibrillation/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20164944

[2]Cardioversion Therapy. Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation. Retrieved from: http://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/treatments/surgery-and-other-procedures/cardioversion-therapy

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How Fast Food Destroys Your Digestive System

Often, fast food contains a lot of calories and very little nutrition. This is why many individuals face numerous health problems when they include fast food in their daily diet. It is a common conception that all fast food must be bad, as there are some healthier options; but in reality, the highly processed nature of fast foods is what negatively impacts an individual’s health.

For instance, frequent spikes in blood sugar and the resistance of insulin are two very common side effects of consuming lots of junk food. These processes occur when the digestive system your body is not working effectively. The normal process is as follows:

  • Carbohydrates are broken down into simple molecules such as glucose and are released into the bloodstream
  • Next, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin that attaches to signal cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream
  • If the blood sugar level is too low, the pancreas releases glucagon to tell the liver to start making use of stored sugars [1].

When this system is frequently interrupted with spikes in blood sugar, the consequences may lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Furthermore, the high sodium content common in fast foods could also affect cardiovascular health. Sodium can contribute to “existing high blood pressure and enlarged heart muscle” [1]. In addition, trans-fats, which are also found in fast foods in abundance, contribute to increasing LDL cholesterol levels. This is often noted as the “bad” cholesterol and is harmful to an individual’s cardiovascular health.

[1] The Effects of Fast Food on the Body. Pietrangelo, Ann and Carey, Elea. Healthline. Retrieved From: http://www.healthline.com/health/fast-food-effects-on-body

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Managing Pain When Fighting Multiple Myeloma

5747870989_27780db120_zMultiple Myeloma is a condition where the development of abnormal blood cells inside the bone marrow cause blood cells in plasma to function improperly. This cancerous condition can prove to be very painful because the buildup of cancerous cells causes pressure on bones, muscles and tissues in the human body. It is important that pain prevention techniques are discussed with a medical professional when treating this disease.

There are many options to explore when treating pain, beginning with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These preliminary drugs usually help moderate pain. To treat more severe pain, opioids are an available option. These can only be received with a doctor’s prescription and should be taken with careful attention to the given directions. Opiods are generally stronger pain relievers and a medical consultation is required before they can be prescribed.

Another factor that requires pain relief medication in cases of multiple myeloma is nerve pain, called neuropathy. This can be done with the use of antidepressants and antiepileptic medications. The use of antidepressants in cases of multiple myeloma is necessary because these medications function quite well in creating a balance of neurotransmitters which allows the patient to feel relieved. Medications such as anticonvulsants also treat severe nerve pain.

In summary, it is important that all pain relief options are explored and considered, with the help of a medical professional. Pain relief often eases the patient’s state of fatigue when combatting conditions such as multiple myeloma.

Sources:

“Multiple Myeloma: How to Handle Pain” WebMd. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/cancer/manage-myeloma-pain#1

“Diseases and Conditions: Multiple Myeloma” Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-myeloma/basics/definition/con-20026607

 

 

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What are the types of diabetes?

diabetes-blood-sugar-diabetic-medicine-46173Diabetes affects approximately 29 million American and 8 million of that total were unaware that they have this disease. Diabetes is a group of disorders that occur through high blood glucose levels. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 caused by the body’s inability to make insulin, and Type 2 as a result of the body’s inability to react to insulin. In the human body, the pancreas is responsible for producing the hormone insulin. This hormone is responsible for regulating the transport of sugars that have been broken down so the body is able to absorb them. When cells are unable to react to insulin effectively, it usually means that a person is going through insulin resistance. People with Type 2 Diabetes experience this problem in large magnitudes.

There are numerous reasons by which a person could be diagnosed with this condition. For instance, mutated or defected DNA could be the cause that the cells are not able to produce or stimulate the release of insulin. Also, obesity is another major reason for Type 2 diabetes. Consumption of foods that are highly processed and have large amounts of carbohydrates causes multiple spikes in blood sugar levels. This adds pressure on the body to use insulin to control sugar in blood levels. The links between obesity and diabetes is well-documented; it has been recorded that “90% of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight or [obese]” [1].

[1] Your Weight and Diabetes. Obesity Society. Retrieved From: http://www.obesity.org/content/weight-diabetes

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What Are The Common Bacteria That Cause Pneumonia?

bacteria-pneumoniaAlveoli are tiny sacs located in the lungs which are essential for moving oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and the blood stream. The human body is prone to experiencing inflammation in these sacs when these structures become infected by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. This condition is often characterized as pneumonia.

Common symptoms of pneumonia include chest pain while breathing and coughing, confusion, fatigue, and the release of mucus from the lungs. Pneumonia is not limited to these symptoms and the severity of these symptoms is affected by numerous causal factors such as, age, health condition and the type of infection which caused the pneumonia [1].

Furthermore, there are many pathogens that may cause pneumonia, but bacterial infections are the most common causal factor. Generally, bacterial infections occur when harmful pathogens are inhaled. These pathogens travel to the lungs and settle in the alveoli. As the body sends infection-fighting cells such as white blood cells to the infected alveoli, the sacs become filled with pus, which causes pneumonia [2].

The following are some examples of bacterium which cause pneumonia:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae: This bacterium is most common in patients who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD’s most common cause is smoking and includes conditions such as chronic bronchitis [3].
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae: This bacterium is most commonly prevalent in the air in the summer and fall months
  • Pneumocystis carinii: This bacterium is known for causing pneumonia in people with compromised immune systems due to diseases and conditions such as HIV/AIDS and cancer.

Since bacteria are the most common cause of pneumonia, the most common treatment is using antibiotics, which have a high cure rate. Antibiotics are chosen based on age, symptoms, severity, and general health. Most symptoms will fade away within a few days, but the lethargic feeling may persist for months. Most community-acquired pneumonia cases are treated at home with medication, but severe cases with higher risk are admitted into hospitals.

Sources:

[1] Pneumonia: “Symptoms and Causes”. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pneumonia/symptoms-causes/dxc-20204678

[2] “Pneumonia: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments”. Crosta, Peter. Medical News Today. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/151632.php?page=2

[3] “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)” The Lung Association. Retrieved from: https://www.lung.ca/copd

 

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How to get enough Vitamin D in your diet

cooked salmon meal vitamin d healthy eatingVitamin D is an essential vitamin required by the human body. It plays a vital role in promoting the absorption of calcium and the growth of bones and cells. It is important that a person has a sufficient level of Vitamin D intake in food or supplements. Foods such as fatty fish, beef, cheese and egg yolks are all naturally rich in Vitamin D. Additionally, you can look for fortified foods that are rich in Vitamin D. Fortification is the process in which nutrients are added to a food to increase its nutritional value. Staple foods such as bread are often fortified to include more vitamins and added nutritional benefits. Orange juice, soy milk and cereals are all good examples of foods fortified with vitamin D.

It is important you receive enough Vitamin D each day because insufficient Vitamin D levels can lead to a deficiency. The typical symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency is bone pain and weakness, but severe deficiencies may cause bone deformations. Typical guidelines dictate that a person under the age of 70 should consume 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day, and those above this age should consume 800 IU of Vitamin D [1]. An excellent option for getting Vitamin D from food is fish, as six ounces of cooked salmon contains more than 600 IU of vitamin D.

Sources:

[1] Top foods for Calcium and Vitamin D. WebMd. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/calcium-vitamin-d-foods

 

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Bernie Sanders Slams Drug Companies on Prices

Expensive Or Cheap Directions On A Metal Signpost

A bevy of tweets from Senator Bernie Sanders last weekend brought some much needed attention back to the conversation on the issues around drug prices. Big Pharma and increasing costs for pharmaceuticals were central issues on the lively debates between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but relegated to the background in the recent presidential debates.

Bernie consistently points out the fact that other developed nations like Canada pay significantly lower prices for the Canadian version of certain drugs. These drugs, including EpiPen, Crestor, Premarin, Zetia, Advair, Januvia, and many more, are only a fraction of the cost in Canada, but produce the same effects. His outrage is justified and has been supported by a number of public cases that point out the malicious practices of drug companies. The most prolific in the last year has been Valent Pharmaceuticals who planned to raise the price of Daraprim by more than 5000%, from $13.50 to over $750 per pill. The drug is over 60 years old, well past the stage of recuperating research costs. This case is only one of the many examples that the Senator provides.

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How Color and Taste Affect Your Medicine

Pills on spoon

When it comes to medication it may come as a surprise how many patients unknowingly give importance to the shape and color of their pills. Not only does it alter the circumstances in which they take their medication, but causes them to question the function of the pill if it has a different physical appearance. In a study conducted by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, researchers found that humans give high importance to shape and color in medication. Easily distinguishable physical features of the same drug varied in  likelihood of consumption depending on color. This study was performed because people had stopped taking their due to different colors and shapes.

Color coding is an often misused way of identifying medication. For many people, the perception of a pill’s function has been enforced in its shape and form, which leads to ignorance when some do not pay enough attention to the medication they ingest.  These assumptions can be dangerous if a patient grabs the wrong bottle with similar colored pills.

There is also a phenomenon where people form judgments on the effectiveness of a medication based on irrelevant factors such as taste or shape. For example, the slogan for Buckley’s Mixture, “It Tastes Awful. And It Works” was wildly successful due to the perception that medication had to taste bad to be effective.  Similar to color, taste should have no effect on a medicine’s effectiveness; however, the perception of unrelated factors does have an impact on whether a drug is taken.

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One Important Health Issue to Discuss at the Next Presidential Debate

8266471202_63a8f743a9_zOctober 9 marks the second presidential debate, sure to be a televised event with a large audience. The first debate was shown to over 84 million people, the largest audience ever for a presidential debate. Among the issues brought up were job creation, taxes, and race issues, but nothing to address the rising costs of basic healthcare for Americans. The topics of the second debate will be much different, following the tradition of the format of a town hall meeting, where members of the audience will supply half of the questions. The remaining questions will be supplied from Martha Raddatz of ABC News and Anderson Cooper of CNN, who have agreed to consider questions posed through this online website.

Over 35 million Americans don’t adhere to their prescription regimens because of the cost and these costs are only going to hurt the economy. The projected effect of missed medication is about $100-300 billion in avoidable healthcare costs.

Big pharmaceutical companies consistently drive prices up to make profit on vulnerable Americans. Recently, Mylan has come under scrutiny for hiking the prices of the EpiPen by 500% in the last eight years with no competition, leading to a federal investigation. EpiPens are a vital piece of equipment that should be available to all who require it. No life should be at risk because the increasing price of a simple life-saving device for no reason other than profit.

The Open Debate Coalition forum is the best chance to raise the issue of unaffordable prescriptions that affects tens of millions of Americans, many who are elderly or on fixed incomes. Help bring this issue to the attention of presidential candidates and to the general public.

Image taken from www.ccPixs.com

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