Congenital Heart Disease and Physical Therapy

Congenital heart diseases refers to the structural (anatomical) or physiological defects in the normal functioning of the heart as a result of birth defects that may be diagnosed soon after birth or may take years to produce full blown cardiac insufficiency. Valvular heart defects form the most common variety of congenital cardiac defect that is associated with high morbidity and mortality in adult years if no management options are employed. This is due to the metabolic demands of the body increase with growth and development that poses more pressure on the heart leading to cardiac failure or circulatory deficiencies. With overallvalence of 26.6%, it was suggested that only 12.1% cases can be detected by clinical evaluation. Among the most prevalent congenital cardiac defects, ventricular septal abnormalities complicate 17.3% of all congenital anomalies followed by atrial septal defects (6.0%) and other less common cardiac diseases. The mortality is highest with cyanotic heart diseases.

According to the research statistics reported by Julien IE Hoffman, over 1 million patients were born with congenital heart defects (during 1940 to 2002). Considering the quality of medical services and surgical / medical advances, Hoffman suggested that the total number of survivors with mild heart disease (who may reach well into adulthood) is 750,000 with mild heart disease, 400,000 with moderate heart disease and 180,000 with severe disease ( with treatment). Without any management or treatment the survival rate may fall to 400,000 with mild disease, 220,000 with moderate disease, and 30,000 with severe heart disease, suggesting very high mortality.

Congenital heart diseases are also associated with stunted growth and development in children marked by poor weight gain, failure to thrive and frequent hospitals while growing up. In addition, these children also develop frequent episodes of shortness of breath, rapid heart rate (also known as tachycardia) and attacks of fatigue associated with decreased exercise endurance.

Physical therapy and mild exercises are helpful in the growth and development of children born with congenital heart disease. It is extremely important not to initiate exercise therapies in these children without seeking the guidance from registered physical therapists who work in coordination with the pediatric cardiologist to deliver best exercise regimens in order to optimize health without overloading the heart. Generally, children and adults can perform moderate static exercises of mild intensity without any complications; however, healthcare providers strictly restrict weight lifting in pediatric aged children and even in adults born with cardiac defects. Caution should be maintained to avoid lifting weight of more than 25 pounds in children and more than 50 pounds in adults. Physical therapist and pediatric cardiologist must assess every child individually and advice customized exercises and treatments according to the severity of illness and overall physical health. Treadmill test, bicycling and echocardiography are mainly used as assessment tools as the risk of sudden death increases if adverse activity is attempted in children born with aortic stenosis, cyanotic heart diseases and coarctation of the aorta.

Hardcore or traditional gym exercises increase cardiac output that may overload the heart and may increase the risk of complications or sudden cardiac death. On the contrast, exercises performed under the guidance of physical therapists serve multiple benefits. Exercise or physical activities are needed in order to build stamina and maintain exercise endurance especially in school going children who engage in physical activities with peers. Physical therapy improves the pace of mental and physical development that allows children to develop healthy social relationships with peers, muscle and motor coordination and mental concordance. Physical therapy and periodic assessments are also needed in order to know the physical capacity of child and to track worsening of cardiac defect with age (in order to avoid accidents or unwanted accidents at schools) by restricting excess physical activity. In some children, healthcare providers delay surgery until the child crosses some developmental milestones; however, it is very important that until then child stays in best possible physical shape to lessen the risk of surgical complications.

According to the scientific peer-reviewed journal- American Family Physician there are 5 stages of physical activity recommendations of Physical Activity in Children with CHD, ranging from no restriction to extreme limitation of physical activity (wheel chair bound).

Without any physical therapy, the progress into the severe disability is fairly high. It is the duty of parents to promote healthy physical activity but make sure to prevent contact sports or aggressive activities that may affect cardiac functioning.

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Diagnostic Tests That Doctors Commonly Use

There are a number of tests that a doctor may use to provide a diagnosis. With the tools available today thanks to modern technology, doctors are able to find more details about the body in order to make a more accurate diagnosis. This will allow patients to get more accurate prognosis and treatment as well. Years ago, doctors would have to make their best educated guess based on the symptoms that they were able to witness. Now, various machines and tests can monitor various parts of the body internally and externally. One such machine is the cardiac monitors for irregular heartbeats.

4 tests that doctors will run for diagnostics include:

X-ray – The x-ray is used by a number of doctors to find out about the bone structure as well as what could be going on in the lungs and other parts of the body. Many of the x-ray machines today are digital, eliminating the need for film and a lot of time to process the x-ray. Some of the machines are also portable, allowing the x-ray to be bought to the patient instead of the other way around.

MRI – The MRI uses magnetic pulses to take images of the different organisms. Because it can be used on various parts of the body, it has become a very valuable machine to be used by various doctors within the medical industry. What used to be only a closed MRI is now available in an open format, which can help to make patients feel more comfortable as they do not feel so claustrophobic.

Ultrasound – The ultrasound machine involves taking images of the body using a scope that goes on the outside of the body. These machines are commonly used to diagnoseose problems in the uterus, the pelvic region and through many of the digestive organisms. Doctors will use a clear gel to help with the visual aspects and then can print the image.

Blood tests – Many different blood tests are taken by doctors as well. As opposed to a standard urine test, there is more that can be located within the blood, allowing for more details about the patient. With each blood test, there are specific things that can be tested for, including antibodies, white blood cell counts and chemical levels. These different levels will allow a doctor to see if there is anything unusual that will help to diagnose one disease over another one based upon findings.

For cardiac conditions doctors have a number of new tools to help diagnose, monitor and treat possible heart problems.

These tools include cardiac monitors , wireless heart monitors and arrhythmia monitors – The arrhythmia monitor is used to help monitor the heart beat to see if there are any irregularities. Many of these monitors are portable, allowing a patient to wear it without any kind of extra cords and it can be worn for a full 24 hours so that doctors can see if particular activities create any additional stress on the heart. It will record all of the data and transmit it to the doctor so no work is required from the patient. Wireless monitors make it easy for a patient to wear these through the day without interfering with what they do on a daily basis.

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Causes Of High Blood Pressure and What You Can Do About It

The American Heart Association estimates that about 77.9 million Americans have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. That's 1 out of every 3 people. So, what are the causes of high blood pressure and what can be done about it?

Family History

While your genes are unavoidable, they do not entirely determine your fate. A recent study followed 6,000 healthy adults for nearly five years, about a third of who had a parent with high blood pressure. The researchers found that those with the family history were about 20% more likely to develop it themselves.

But, even if you have a family history, do not give up hope yet. The researchers also found that genetic predisposition can be overridden by a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. Those who ate a diet low in salt and walked briskly for at least 150 minutes a week had a 34% lower risk of high blood pressure.

Lack of Exercise

Everyone knows they need to exercise, yet in our busy lives it is easy to let it fall by the wayside. Only about 15% of Americans report participating in vital activity for the recommended amount of time. It is generally recommended to engage in a minimum of half an hour of reasonably intense physical activities most days of the week.

Exercising raises your heart rate, which actually exercises your veins and arteries. As long as the blood vessels are not stretched beyond their healthy limits, expanding them regularly helps keep them healthy. If a regular trip to the gym is not doable, find an activity that fits into your day and watch your salt intake.

High Sodium Diet

We're all guilty of it. You're rushing around in your busy day and get hungry. You grab a bag of chips or hit the drive-through. Salt- laden snacks and foods are constantly in easy reach. But eating a diet high in salt can actually damage your blood vessels over time, and increase your risk for high blood pressure. According to the Institute of Medicine, a diet high in salt is believed to be responsible for up to 40% of all cases of high blood pressure in the United States.

So, What Can I Do About It?

Of all these factors, your diet may be the easiest to control. You can not change your genes and your schedule is at the mercy of others when it comes to finding time to exercise. However, you can choose to eat a low sodium diet. For example, if you have to eat out, do not eat the salty fries. Buy low-salt or salt-free snacks. When you cook at home use low sodium ingredients. There are delicious salt-free seasonings available, and even good salt substitutes for when another spice just will not do.

Whatever your individual circumstances, you can take steps to control the causes of high blood pressure and minimize your health risks. The first thing your doctor will tell you is to exercise more and improve your diet. Exercising and eating a healthy, low sodium diet can help keep your blood pressure in check.

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Do You Have High Blood Pressure? Enzyme Therapy May Be Able to Help You

According to the American Heart Foundation, nearly eighty-million people suffer from high blood pressure in the USA. That figure is astounding when you consider that this disease is a preventable disease. But sadly, many people go through life not understanding that the way they live is killing them. Silently!

In fact, high blood pressure (HBP for short, and also called hypertension) is known in the medical industry as 'the silent killer', because there are usually no symptoms – until it is too late. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to alleviate symptoms. One of them is taking a supplement called nattokinase, which has many heart and blood related benefits. More on that later.

Your blood pressure system works like this. Each organ in your body, for example your brain or lungs, needs oxygen to function. The oxygen is transported to your organs by your blood, which is pumped from your heart. Every beat of your heart creates 'pressure' within your arms and veins when it beats. Your 'blood pressure' is determined by the pressure that is caused by the beat, and then in the time when it is not beating. This is when you get your arm wrapped tight with a cloth and fastened with velcro, and then a doctor will pump air into this tool (this can be done manually, or by a machine) and then make a note of the reading.

High blood pressure causes no end of problems for patients. They range from weakening of the arteries and blood vessels, high risk of blood clots, plaque build up and tears of the veins and capillaries. I suffer from poor circulation, plus I have a family history of high blood pressure, which is why I take a natural enzyme therapy every morning and evening.

We will discuss this later in the article, but first I want to tell you more about the problems and serious health conditions that high blood pressure can cause if you do not catch it early enough. This 'silent killer' affects so many parts of your body when it gets out of hand. In these cases you are at high risk of stroke, damage to your kidneys, loss of vision and in men, erectile dysfunction. All of these are either killers or can destroy your life.

So it really is worth considering making changes to your lifestyle and sometimes your diet, to prevent such terrible things happening to you. And it does not take much either, unless you are a complete couch potato! It just depends whether you want a long life which is relatively (health) problem free or a short one, that will take you in and out of emergency rooms and numerous hospital beds. And ever kill you!

Of course, I am talking about the extremes of what can happen here. But, this is the truth. If you do not feed your body unprocessed foods, drink plenty of fluids (excluding alcohol) and get at least some form or daily exercise, you are heading for problems of this horrible nature.

So, what else can you do to prevent high blood pressure? As we discussed earlier, I am a huge advocate of one particular product called nattokinase. Nattokinase is a proteolytic enzyme originating from fermented soybeans. It dates back centuries in Japan, because they have implemented it via Natto. This is the main substance that the enzyme can be extracted from. Natto is a specialized food, usually only eaten by its connoisseurs, mainly in Japan. It is a really slimy texture and tastes of a cheesy peanut butter (apparently), which makes it pretty revolting to smell and taste, to you and me.

But the good news is that if you want to add it to your diet, you do not have to worry about the 'uggy' smell or taste, as it is only the enzyme you need, which can easily be obtained in supplement form.

Nattokinase has other benefits too, like helping to keep your blood thin. This is the reason why I use it, because I have poor blood circulation. And it works! The bruising around my ankles has deteriorated, along with the swelling and I also feel a lot less pain because of this supplement. And I feel confident in the fact, that by taking nattokinase, I am protecting my heart from clots and also reducing the risk of heart disease as I get older.

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Hidden Dangers of Alcohol – Plus a Good?

There is a big hub-a-baloo over alcohol and whether people should drink it or not, how much, when and where. Personally, I feel it is the responsibility of the person to make these decisions, not anyone else. And when people do consume alcohol, it should be done in a responsible way so no one else is harmed in the process.

That side, there are hidden dangers of alcohol that many people do not realize.

We have been long acquainted with the saying alcohol kills brain cells. It is sort-of true; alcohol affects the brain and can strip the myelin sheath around nerve cells and cause them to die. This not only happens in the brain, but through the body.

Alcohol does a number on the liver, but do you know why? A healthy liver can process about 1 oz of alcohol per hour. The rest of the alcohol goes through your system and is 'stored' in other parts until the liver can metabolize it. This storage can cause serious problems, such as muscle pain, arthritis pain, heart failure and brain injury.

The liver is a very important organ and while it is consumed with the processing of the alcohol, it can not do what it is supposed to. One of the chief concerns is that medications are not processed in due time. Any back up of medication in the system can cause the medication to be more effective. So, if you are taking a medication to reduce your heart rate, taking alcohol with it can cause your heart to slow further. Plus, with alcohol being a depressant, the medications can turn fatal quickly.

The toxic by-products and additives are also not processed while the liver is consumed with alcohol. These toxic additives, like preservatives, colorings and artificial sugars, then are stored in fat tissue. Because our body knows it will poison itself if that fat tissue is used for energy, you are unable to lose that fat tissue no matter how hard you exercise. Thus, alcohol makes you fatter.

Over time, the alcohol starts to destroy the liver itself. This is why heavy drinkers often die of liver disease. When the liver begins to degrade, its ability to process fat and chemicals decreases. These fats and chemicals are stored in the body, particularly in the liver and fat cells. The liver swells and fat tissue swells and drinks obtain the 'beer gut'. Even casual drinks begin to see this effect.

Drinkers often develop diabetes. This is because one of the pathways for the processing of alcohol turns the alcohol into sugar. It's similar to drinking a soda. In addition, drinkers often have poor diets. With the sunset of diabetes, the alcohol processing is slowed. Any complications from diabetes is increased, such as blindness and amputation.

Different descent can play a factor as well. People of Asian descent are better able to process alcohol, but pay the price because the toxic by-products build up far faster than the body's ability to process them. Caucasians face the challenge of not breaking the alcohol down as quickly, so it remains in the system longer.

Beside, most alcohol has no nutritional value. A few have some.

Fresh local beers, the kind with the yeast still active, provide a large amount of B12 vitamin. However, any processing, like pasteurization, bottling or storing, destroys the health effects and you are left with a nutritionally dead product. Any beer in a can or bottle has no health benefits.

All hard liquor has no health benefits.

Red wine is often talked about as healthy. In servings of about 4oz per day, dark red wine is healthy when consumed with a mid-day meal. The flavonoids from the grapes are extremely heart healthy and can help reduce cholesterol and reduce the chances of a stroke or heart attack. The lighter the wine, however, the less the benefits.

Here's the bottom line: if you do drink, choose one of the healthier options. Avoid hard liquor and pasteurized beers. Keep within the 4 oz of a drink.

Just know alcohol is generally unhealthy. Outside of the unhealthy types and quantity, alcohol destroys our bodies. The choice is now ours to make.

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Easy Ways To Find Heart Healthy Foods

Often a routine visit with your health care professional can end with a smile and a strong recommendation to eat more heart healthy foods. To some of us this may seem like an impossible assignment, but it really is not. To find heart healthy foods visit your favorite grocery store. Even though you probably will not find an aisle labeled “Heart Healthy Food” at your favorite grocery store, you can find a good variety of heart healthy foods there. Most of these foods are fiber rich foods. High fiber foods are good for your heart health, digestion, and weight loss. Whether you want to or need to lower your cholesterol, fiber lowers your levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol. A simple strategy can help you to find these foods easily and quickly. We suggest you use your heart healthy food shopping list as your map. Although a map is rarely a picture of the entire territory, it is always best to start with a map and use it. This list will remind you of what you went there to do. It will also keep you on task and reduce the urge to buy unhealthy foods. To make your grocery store experience effective buy only the foods you intend to eat. In your quest for heart healthy foods, your map will take you down various food aisles. We suggest you begin with some of the high fiber foods in the produce aisle. If you favorite grocery store has produce aisles with affordable fresh fruits and vegetables have at it. Fill your cart with a variety of fruits and vegetables to assure you get the heart healthy food benefits that both offer.

As a rule, with vegetables the darker color of the fiber content. Choose fiber rich foods like broccoli, Swiss chard or Collard greens. Select vegetables that are of medium size such as red, russet, or sweet potatoes, and onions which all have good amounts of fiber. Apples, avocados, kiwi fruit, oranges, peears, blueberries, cherries, and strawberries are fresh fruits and excellent sources of fiber.
However, if prices are out of your range or fresh fruits and vegetables are not available, the canned goods and dry goods aisles offer good alternatives. Recognize that some refined or processed canned fruits and vegetables are lower in fiber. Please avoid those canned with sugars or lard which can sabotage the best heart healthy food eating efforts. Before you add canned fruits and vegetables to your shopping cart read the labels carefully.

Finally, as you cruise down the dry goods-aisle remember that all beans are fiber-rich foods, and navy and white beans are the most fiber density.Garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas, kidney, Lima, pinto beans are also good heart healthy food choices to put in your cart. Use beans as flavorful addition to soups or salads and transform them into mouth-watering and lip-smacking experiences. Be adventurous and try other legumes which are also high in fiber. Now that you know how easy it is to find heart healthy foods, you can eat more of them. You'll feel better and look better, and have more energy.

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Bad Medicine – Isn’t It?

Prescription medications can and do save lives. I encourage people who actually need these drugs to be faithful and honest when taking them. And to work with a doctor to get off them.

However, I firmly believe most people on prescription medication are wasting their money and harming their health taking these drugs.

Most problems in health come not from a prescription deficiency, but from bad choices in lifestyle and diet. We do not need medications to control blood sugars in Type 2 Diabetics if they would just stop eating the junk manufactures call food.

High cholesterol would actually disappear from all but a small proportion of people if they would stop eating foods loaded in bad fats, sugar and chemicals.

How do I know this? I change people's lifestyle and diet and teach them how their foods affect their health. I show them how eating a good diet really makes a difference in their health.

I do this in 3 easy steps:

  • Focus on natural, nutritious vegetables, fruits and quality meats.
  • Lots of natural water and teas
  • Exercise and lifestyle habits that promote health

Most people make health harder than it really is. Health is not just the absence of disease. It's having the energy to do what you want when you want to do it. Health is fighting off the latest cold without resorting to life-altering medicines. Health is being at peace with yourself and your body.

Meditations do not bring health. The very promise of these drugs is not to remove the condition at all. Let me say this again: Medication do not cure health problems, they cover the symptoms.

Look at statins for cholesterol: They bring the total body cholesterol number down by changing the way the liver works. It forces the body to do something it knows is bad just to get a good number on a piece of paper. It did nothing to address the real cause of the cholesterol: bad diet and lifestyle.

Diabetic drugs are the same: They force the body to change the way it responds to sugar. Some medications cause an already tired pancreas to work overtime, thus speeding its destruction. Some force our cells to accept more sugar than they can take, so poisoning them. Some are just bandages used to hide a bigger problem.

All these drugs do is change a number on a piece of paper; none address the true cause of disease: bad diet and lifestyle.

I've seen time and again how simple changes in diet and lifestyle rapidly eliminate the actual cause of disease, thus eliminating the need for medications.

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The Enemies of PVCs (Premature Ventricular Contractions) and Heart Arrhythmias: What You Must Avoid

There are certain factors which either trigger heart palpitations. I would suggest that that, no matter what you are doing to reduce or eliminate your PVCs (otherwise referred to as extra systoles or arrhythmia), you avoid the following:

1 – Stimulants – I found caffeine (and coffee in particular) to make my extra heart beats much worse; generally speaking caffeine and any ingredient containing caffeine, such as black, white and green tea, chocolate, cocoa, mate-based drinks and so on, are to be avoided; all stimulates, as a matter of fact, should be avoided when you suffer from PVCs, as they may act like fuel on a fire. On the other hand, relaxants are always a good idea (relaxing activities but also relaxing teas and natural supplements, as explained on my other article).

2 – Alcohol – I found that alcohol (even a healthy glass of good quality red wine, unfortunately) is a significant trigger of extra heart beats in my case or, if I already have them as I sip an alcoholic drink, it seems to make them much worse soon soon afterwards.

3 – Lack of sleep . It's commonly argued that lack of sleep or irregular sleep may trigger Premature Ventricular Contractions. I believe lack of sleep was a key factor in my case: before I started suffering from 'heavy' PVCs, I had spent several months sleeping very little, from 3 to 5 hours a night! I now wish I had not! I would strongly recommend to anyone (even if you are totally healthy) to sleep the recommended 7 hours per night. If not, ever your heart will 'give out' and then you wish you had found the extra hours! Occidentally, given my work, I do skip some good sleeping time but I try to minimize this: it's jut not worth it.

4 – Stress – it's sometimes inevitable but – as you probably already know, stress does cause or at least trigger extra systoles. So, the key is to learn to either avoid stressful situations altogether or to remember, every time you feel stressed in any way (including anger, despair etc), that your life is more important than anything else. If you ever underook a pharmacological stress test for your heart (as I did), you will know what I'm talking about: the test was to painful and dreadful in my case, that it made re-think my priorities: these days I care a lot less about many things, including money. Nothing, absolutely nothing is more important than your life!

5 – Sudden 'movements' after prolonged periods of 'rest' (sitting down or lying down): I noticed that, if I sit down for prolonged periods of time and then I suddenly stand up and walk quickly, even if only for a short distance, I trigger heart palpitations or make them worse. A person with a totally healthy heart in a totally healthy cardiovascular system may not even notice that his / her heart needs to beat faster to compensate for the sudden 'gear change' (so to speak): but someone with PVCs may not be so lucky (I certainly was not!), So 'changing gear' slowly is best. Now that I take a series of supplements (which I list, see below), I do not have to be so careful, but I still try to shift from rest to activity slowly (if I can remember!)

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Signs of a Heart Attack – Knowing Them Can Help You Save Lives

Heart attacks account for millions of deaths every year. A heart attack (also called myocardial infarction) must be treated promptly after early detection if this danger is to be averted. For this, you should be able to recognize a heart attack when it happens. So let's discuss the signs of a heart attack.

What is an Acute Coronary Syndrome?

An acute coronary syndrome, of which heart attacks are one form, is caused when blood flow in a coronary artery becomes suddenly reduced or occluded completely. Coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle, providing it with energy and oxygen needed to pump blood to the rest of the body. When coronary blood flow drops below a critical level, the heart is unable to perform its regular activity and failures.

Typically the reduction in blood flow is caused by an atherosclerotic plaque which is the deposition of excess fat and cholesterol in the wall of blood vessels. This is the result of inflammation in the vessel wall resulting in blood cells becoming sticky and obstructive the flow of fluid in the narrowed tubes.

When the sticky blood clots and collectively blocks the coronary flow, it results in a heart attack – without immediate corrective action is taken.

Signs of a Heart Attack

The most common presentation of a myocardial infarction is the sunset of crushing, severe chest pain located in the middle of the chest or towards the left. The pain often radiates from here to the upper stomach, neck, angle of the jaw or left arm. It is severe in intensity, and quite unlike any other pain the person has experienced in the past. The pain does not relent with time or medication, and may even get worse.

Not all infractions occur with chest pain. In older people, diabetics and some women, a heart attack may be entirely painless and indicated only by other signs. These signs include palpitations, profuse sweating, light headedness or dizziness, extreme fatigue and sudden breathlessness.

Emergency Measures To Take

Whenever you suspect a myocardial infarction, it is best to seek immediate medical assistance. Call an emergency service number to ask for an ambulance to rush the patient to hospital. As an immediate measure, placing a crushed tablet of aspirin in the patient's mouth, or a nitroglycerin tablet under the tongue, can help restore some blood flow in the obstructive artery by making the platelets in the clot less sticky.

As soon as the victim of an attack reaches hospital, emergency measures like nasal oxygen and perhaps a pain killer like morphine will be administrated. An EKG test will confirm the diagnosis by showing characteristically changes. Blood tests to measure the level of marks of heart muscle damage like Troponin levels can help make the diagnosis more certain.

The key to saving life by rushing a heart attack victim to hospital at the earliest lies in correctly identifying the warning signs and taking prompt action. This list of symptoms can serve as an important indicator of serious injury and when you take note of it and act promptly, you may save a person's life – quite literally.

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PVCs and Heart Palpitations: Your Best Options to Stop Suffering

A few months ago I started to suffer from severe PVCs (Premature Ventricular Contractions – commonly referred to as heart palpitations), as well as from some angina symptoms: I soon become almost incapacitated of living a normal life; after only a few quick steps, I would feel my heart 'skipping beats' heavily or beating furiously fast and irregularly and, at times, disabling chest tightness. I was very confused and scared at first but then, after suffering 'in silence', I decided to see different cardiologists and cardio surgeons and, of course, underwent several tests. One of the 3 cardiologists (probably the better one) prescribed beta blockers for me and, after that, further tests.

On my way home from the most uncomfortable test ever, I determined that I was going to give 'natural supplements' a try. I was shocked at how quickly my condition improved. I am going to keep you informed not only about what I did and am doing, but also about what my progress is like, with updates.

What are PVCs? PVCs are, briefly put, irregular heart beats which make you feel as if your heart is 'skipping a beat' or beating too many times (feeling the 'extra systoles' in your heart beat, for example); This is not a pleasant feeling at all and can make you faint or feel very anxious or even scared. If, on top of that, you also have some chest tightness (as in my case), you may well feel as if you are about to have a heart attack or to pass out. I would find myself in the middle of a store suddenly needing to stop and sit anywhere hoping that the 'heart palpitations' would subside and, at times, my chest tightness too. It was awful. I also became very irritable and anxious, as a consequence of my physical condition.

I will go into the detail of the condition if you want, but essentially anyone who suffices from PVCs (sometimes referred to as heart palpitations, rightly or wrongly) will know what I'm talking about.

The cause of PVcs is different from person to person. It could be trauma, stress, a metabolic problem, some nutrient / s deficiency, sometimes even a hormone-based cause. It could also be due to some 'blockage' inside or hardening of the treaties, even the peripheries ones (not the ones inside or just outside your heart, very simply put). For this reason, the best approach is to undergo enough tests to rule out potential blockages of even one artery, or just to make sure they have not hardened too much (again, very basically put). Your cholesterol and your blood pressure should also be checked thoroughly, to make sure there are not further problems in your cardiovascular system. In any case, if you speak to a cardiologist he / she will know what's necessary to rule out a physical reason which could be potentially dangerous. The tests usually range from a simple Echo Cardiogram to Echo Stress Tests (ways to 'view' the heart and its functions whilst in a 'stressful' situation, usually beating much faster than usually), to an actual angiogram (a more invasive procedure for which you may have to stay in hospital for one day). Sometimes a radiation-based-test is indicated, although I chose avoid such (relatively) high radiation tests (very recent studies cautioned against nonchalantly carrying out these tests and recommended them only if absolutely necessary); again, it all depends on the seriousness of your condition and, above all, if a much deeper study of your cardiovascular system and your heart function is necessary; the choice is yours and, of course, listen to what your 2 or 3 cardiologists recommend in your case. If you do what I did, you will not stop at the first cardiologist and will seek more than one opinion until you feel you know all there is to know about your condition and all the options you have to treat it.

Assuming your tests show nothing serious at physical level as mentioned above, you are going to be offered a small number of options, typically:

1 – Do nothing since your PVCs are 'benign', potentially only consuming (letting it dissolve in your mouth, for example) a 'baby' aspirin daily (from 75mg to 100mg per day) to improve blood flow

2 – The use of beta-blockers or similar drugs; beta blockers slow down your heart beat (often with the consequence of diminishing PVCs). They are quite useful and commonly regarded as safe. I found them useful but did not want to deal with the minor weight gain nor with having to check my heart beat often, to prevent it from being too slow. Nitroglycerin-type drugs 'widen' your arteries and veins, so improving blood flow and, if you do not want pills, you can opt for a skin patch; very useful against angina but, in my case, my PVCs became instantly much, much worse and I actually thought I was on the verge of death. Of course, we are all slightly different in the specifics of our heart condition, so monitoring how your body responds to each or any medication is key. I quickly chose to research if there were alternative, natural supplements and, today, I feel this is the best path for me. I explain this on my article (link below).

3 – In very serious cases, heart ablation is considered. This is a surgical procedure which 'burns' the section of the heart where the extra systole is taking place (or the 'faulty' heart beat). As I was waiting for my many tests at various hospitals, I spoke to few sufferers who had already undergone heart ablation once, and were scheduled to have a second surgery! I was not impressed (but of course you can not rule it out unless you cardiologist thinks it's OK to do so – in my case 2 out of 3 thought heart ablation was not in my immediate future and that other options should be tried first).

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Could The Elderly Be At High Risk Of Poor Heart Health?

Do you know how healthy your heart is? As people age it is important that they know about the health of their heart, Cardiovascular Disease is the largest killer in the UK with 180,000 deaths recorded in 2010 and in the USA the figure is around 370,000. The biggest increase comes once people are over 75, in fact Cardiovascular Disease is the number killer for people over 45.

Research shows that heart problems within the elderly population are potentially overlooked. One if four elderly people have an undiagnosed heart condition. This may be happening because individual's are not receiving regular heart checkups.

As we age many changes occur within the body, this can have a particular impact on the heart. There are some normal changes that happen to the heart as part of the aging process, but some problems may arise and in this case individual's should always seek a doctor's advice.

Ageing changes to the heart

There are many ways in which the heart changes as we age including: lower heart rate, increased size of the heart muscle, arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm), and muscle degeneration. The thickening of blood vessels also affects heart health, as it can cause conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and hypertrophy (thickening of the heart muscle). There are also changes that occur in the blood that can cause issues such as: a slower response to blood loss, anemia, and an inability to resist infection.

Common heart problems

Common heart problems include: angina, arrhythmia, arteriosclerosis (hardening of arteries), congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, heart valve diseases, and anemia. This conditions can occur at any time in an individual's life, but the likelihood of these conditions occurring increases as individual age because the heart muscle weaknesses.

Effects of changes to the heart

Changes to the heart muscle during the aging process can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of individual's. For example an older heart may not be able to pump blood as effectively as it used to, and this could lead to the individual need medications or surgery in order to assist the heart.

What can be done to help?

There are a number of things that can be done to prevent or tie heart conditions. For example eating a heart-healthy balanced diet. This reduces the amount of saturated fats and cholesterol levels within an individual's diet, and this can help to control an individual's weight, which in turn provides a number of benefits for the heart.

Regular exercise can also provide a number of benefits such as: preventing obesity, reducing stress, and in diabetics it can also help individual's to control their blood sugar levels.

Having regular heart checkups is also important. During these checksups individual's should have their blood pressure and cholesterol checked. Blood pressure should be checked at least once a year, and cholesterol at least once every five years. However if the individual sufferers from conditions such as: diabetes, heart disease or kidney problems, these should be monitored more regularly. It is important to receive regular heart checksups particularly as you age because it makes it easier for doctors to notice changes to the heart's condition. This is important because it allows problems to be treated effectively and efficiently. This can prove to be particularly important if an individual is diagnosed with a serious condition, as an early diagnosis may help an individual to maintain an active lifestyle for longer.

How home care can help

Care workers would be able to provide a wide variety of support such as: prompting medication taking. This can be particularly helpful for those suffering heart conditions, as they may have difficulty remembering to take medications, especially when they have to be taken at certain times.

Other ways in which care workers may be able to assist is through encouraging exercise, by encouraging them to partake in physical activities or assisting them in going out for a walk on a regular basis.

They could also help to prepare meals that follow a balanced diet. This can be extremely beneficial, as this can help individual's to stay active, and it could turn it prevent deterioration and obesity, as well as helping to maintain independence for as long as possible.

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The Amazing Benefits of Drinking Tea

A cup of tea anyone? Drinking this brew has been connected to providing a lot of amazing health advantages for many centuries. But it is only during the recent years that its healing properties have been properly investigated. A lot of health experts recognize the powerful benefits of this drink.


The amazing benefits are mainly because it is rich in flavonoids. What are flavonoids? Flavonoids are antioxidants and they are compounds that are plant-derived. Green tea, the healthiest type, is a good source of catechins. They are more powerful compared to the famous vitamin C and vitamin E in preventing oxidative damage to healthy cells.

Catechins can also help boost our immune systems, reducing our risk of getting serious diseases. According to studies, drinking this healthy brew can help reduce the risk of many types of cancers like colon, lung, esophageal, bladder, skin, and breast. Green as well as black teas are loaded with polyphenols which are antioxidants that are associated with a lot of powerful health benefits.

Other Benefits

Other benefits include a reduced risk for developing heart ailments. Antioxidants that are found in black, oolong, and green varieties prevent the oxidation of LDL or bad cholesterol in the body. On the other hand, these antioxidants help increase the HDL or good cholesterol.

Antioxidants found also help improve the function of the arteries. According to a study that was recently published, regular green or oolong drinkers showed an amazing 46% to 65% decrease in hypertension risk compared to people who do not consume this drink at all. It also has positive effects on our mental functioning, short-term memory, feelings of well-being, and increase in alertness.

How to Drink Tea

Drink it a few occasions per day to properly absorb the antioxidants as well as other healthy plant compounds. In tea-drinking countries, the custom amount is up to three cups per day. Allow it to steep for about three to five minutes. This will bring out the catechins. To make the most out of the catechins and other antioxidants is to drink it freshly brewed.

Choosing the Best Kind

It is also important to choose the best one to drink. Loose leaf types are healthier than those in bags. Bags only contain dusts and there before they contain less catechins, flavonoids. Bottled and ready-to-drink, instant, and decaffeinated varieties have less catechins and other compounds. However, this healthy drink could impede iron absorption from vegetables and fruits. But you can add milk or lemon or drink it in between meals to counteract the problem.

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Cinnamon and Heart Health

There's not really an established link between cardiovascular health and cinnamon. However, there are many reasons why your family, friends, and even health professionals may recommend it for a healthy heart. If you're interested in knowing more about cardiovascular health, it is important to learn to understand certain controllable risks factors. The risk factors that can be controlled are diabetes mellitus Type II, obesity, lack of physical activity, and hypertension. With a healthy and well-balanced diet, right exercise, and proper treatment, these diseases can be controlled and treated.

Benefits of Cinnamon

Clinical trials done in 2003, as well as in year 2006 in Europe, support using this spice in lower blood sugar levels of patients who are suffering from Type II Diabetes. Since Type II Diabetes is among the factors related to having heart disease, the studies may lead to promoting its use for cardiovascular health.

However, there's confusion about which kind of was utilized during the clinical trial. There are actually several varieties to choose from. In the US, the most general kind that is sold in stores for flavoring is called cassia. According to some health professionals, there is a compound found in this plant that could be toxic and lethal to the kidneys and liver. Therefore, consuming high amount of cassia is not good for the body.

Cinnamon is also among the main ingredients that are used in fat burners and supplements that promote weight loss. They are sold in a lot of stores that sell health supplements. These supplements help you get rid of the weight through helping the body burn more calories. Though there's no clear scientific evidence yet as to whether they work for everyone, some research results support and recommend their use.

Good Fat Burners

If you're suffering from obesity, it is significant to get rid of the excess weight and improve your cardiovascular health. However, it is also essential to maintain your weight as gaining and / or losing 20 or 30 pounds of excess weight during your entire lifetime is thought to be as unhealthy as having obesity. If a friend, family member, or a college recommends using this spice for your cardiovascular health and you're obese or overweight, then most probably it is because of its fat-burning properties.

A study that circulated in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology supports its usage as an effective fat burner and possibly the link between cardiovascular health. In the study, the kind that was used was Cinnamomum verum or “true cinnamon”. Unlike cassia, you do not have to worry about the side effects since there are no potential health risks involved in using Cinammomum verum. However, it's rare to find.

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What Are The Risk Factors For Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is present naturally in the body and is something that the body so that it can function properly. It is used mainly in the production of vitamin D, some hormones and bile acids. However, the body needs only very small amounts of it to meet its regular requirements. When you have an excessive amount of this component in the body, it tends to get deposited in the treaties. The problem is, any buildup in the arteries obstructs the flow of blood. Blockages in the carotid arteries that go to the brain, the coronary arteries that lead to the heart and the arteries that facilitate blood supply to the legs are most susceptible and can lead to serious consequences.

While poor lifestyle habits are the leading cause of high cholesterol, some people are more susceptible to this condition. Here are some of the risk factors for this condition.

Genetics : Hereditary plays a major role in determining whether or not you are at higher risk. This is because, the way your body metabolizes LDL is primarily influenced by your genes. Family history of having this condition may lead to early incidence of heart disease.

Obesity : People who are overweight tend to have higher levels of LDL or bad cholesterol, which again leads to early heart problems. The importance to losing weight can not be stressed enough. When you lose weight, your LDL levels are reduced and your HDL or good cholesterol levels are raised, which reduced your risk tremendously.

Age & Sex : Your risk increases as you get older. This is because the body's increasingly diminishing ability to synthesize the foods that we eat. Women tend to have lower levels as compared to men before the sunset of menopause. However, with age, the levels rise in both, men as well as women, till they reach about 60 to 65 years in age. With the sunset of menopause, usually around 50 years of age, levels in women tend to be higher than that of most men of the same age.

Sedentary lifestyle : Sitting at your desk for long hours every day increases triglycerides. Regular physical exercise increases HDL levels and very effective at managing this condition.

Stress : More and more studies are showing that people who are highly stressed have higher levels of cholesterol in the body.

If you have any of the risk factors for cholesterol it is advisable to start taking precautions as early as possible. This would include maintaining a healthy diet and ensuring that you exercise regularly to keep your weight down. Regular medical checkups are highly recommended.

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The Critical Nature of CPR Training

Every year, millions of people around the world are affected by heart disease. Recent statistics show that heart disease is the number 1 cause of mortality and morbidity in most of the countries around the world. The sedentary lifestyle and bad diet contributes mostly to building of plaques and cholesterol that in due time, shall clog the major veins and arteries of the heart. This can result in hypertension, stroke or even heart attack.

At times of loss of heart function, CPR or Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation is very much helpful. CPR is an act of pumping blood by manually pushing the chest using two hands and then injecting air through the mouth, a process called ventilation. The ratio and formula of CPR for adults is 30 pumps is to 2 ventilation for 1 full minute. For a lay rescuer to do this, one must assess the consciousness of the person either by tapping, shaking or calling aloud. If the person is unconscious, proceed with palpation of the pulse and assessment of breathing. If there is negative breathing and negative pulse, then CPR can be done immediately.

CPR certification is needed mostly by health care professionals who work at the hospitals and ambulatory services. This is important since there are phases of CPR training which is the BLS or Basic Life Support and the ACLS which is the Advance Cardiac Life Support. In BLS, CPR and Rescue breathing or RB are typically taught to rescuers. Management of choking can also be taught here. There is a big difference and technique in doing the CPR and RB among adults, children and infants. Once a practitioner passed the BLS, he or she can enroll herself to ACLS which can provide an in-depth approach in reviving a patient. In ACLS, use of machines such as the ECG and defibrillator will come in place. Thus, knowledge of various ECG reading is vital. In ACLS, cardiac drugs are also used in conjunction with CPR. Cardiac drugs can actually enhance survival with the help of CPR.

The cost of training and certification varies. Some hospitals and agencies handle the expense of training while others do not. A final diagnostic exam and actual demonstration must be completed before one can be a certified CPR-provider. At the end of the training, certificates and identification cards are given to the providers. This can also be renewed every two years since there are new updates and research being released by health associations such as the American Heart Association. Previously Airway, Breathing and Circulation (ABC) was the priority in doing the CPR. But now, AHA revised to Circulation, Airway then Breathing or CAB. This was revised since pumping of blood is more important than giving ventilation.

CPR is important in saving lives. Certification can be made through actual BLS and ACLS trainings provided by various health agencies. This can enhance the knowledge and skills of a practitioner who wants to be trained in such field. This can also be an avenue for the practitioner to be trained as a BLS or ACLS instructor in due time.

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