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Battling HEART AND STROKE

Preview into heart(y) events in February

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | January 30th, 2009 | by Raquel | no comments

Instead of our usual Friday heart(y) news roundup, let’s have a peek into our schedule for February.

Upcoming heart(y) awarenesss events for February

February is a special month because it has been designated as THE MONTH of many things, especially on heart(y) and healthy issues. Most important for us here at Battling Heart and Stroke, February is the American Heart Month and the National Women’s Healthy Heart Campaign. As part of the American Heart Month, Friday, Feb. 6, 2009 has been designated as National Wear Red Day. Stay tuned for more details next week.

From February 7 to 14, we will be observing the Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. In the same week from February 8 to 14 is Heart Failure Awareness Week.

Don’t forget to be good to your heart on Valentine’s Day, February 14, which by the way, is also designated as National Organ Donor Day to honor those with hearts so big they even share their blood and organs.

Now, February also honors healthy lifestyle and nutritious food by being the

Of course, we shouldn’t forget that our dental health is closely related to our heart health. That’s why we shouldn’t forget that February is National Children’s Dental Health Month.

Finally, let us all be friends and be nice to each other next month because February is the International Friendship Month.

Heart(y) Online Webchats with Cleveland Clinic Experts for February
Once again, the country’s number one heart clinic is organizing live webchats wherein the public can ask the top heart experts questions close to their hearts. Below is February’s schedule:

  • Carotid Artery Disease Wednesday, February 18, 2009 – 12 noon (EST), to be presented by Dr. Daniel Clair, Chairman, Department of Vascular Surgery.
  • Cardiac Conditions & Concerns in the Student Athlete Thursday, February 19, 2009 – 12 noon (EST), will be presented by pediatric cardiologist Dr.Richard Sterba of Pediatric Institute & Children’s Hospital and Heart and Vascular Institute.
  • Ask the Heart Doctor, Friday, February 20, 2009 – 12 noon (EST), to be presented by Dr. Michael Faulx, staff cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute.
  • Treating and Preventing Adolescent Obesity, Wednesday, February 25, 2009 – 12 noon (EST), to be presented by Dr. Ellen Rome of the Department of Adolescent Medicine Pediatric Institute and Children’s Hospital.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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Battling CANCER

January is US National Cervical Health Awareness Month

Categories: CANCER | January 15th, 2009 | by Raquel | no comments

Ladies, when was the last time you visited your gynecologist? If it was more than three years ago, then it is time to set another appointment. In honor of the National Cervical Health Awareness Month, I beg you to take good care of yourself and your cervix.

Here are some of the few reasons why you should visit your gynecologist regularly:

  • In the US, about 10,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year.
  • Yearly, cervical cancer kills about 3,700 women in the USA.
  • Globally, cervical cancer kills over 250,000 women each year.

However, nobody has to die from cervical cancer. It is a preventable and treatable disease.

The key to stopping cervical cancer on its tracks is early screening and detection. And the earlier, the better. Screening is checking for a disease even in the absence of symptoms. Early detection is catching a disease at the earliest stage possible.

The standard screening and detection test for abnormalities in the cervix is the Pap (Papanicolaou) test which can be performed during routine gynecological check ups. In the US, the routine use of Pap test has significantly decreased mortalities due to cervical cancer – by over 70% during the last 50 years. Unfortunately, this is not the case in less developed countries where cases account for 85% of all cervical cancer.

Now, if you believe that cervical cancer can only affect young, sexually active women, and therefore a Pap test is not for you, then think again.

According to the National Institutes of Health

Current general guidelines recommend that women have a Pap test at least once every 3 years, beginning about 3 years after they begin to have sexual intercourse, but no later than age 21. Experts recommend waiting about 3 years after the start of sexual activity to avoid overtreatment for common, temporary abnormal changes. It is safe to wait 3 years, because cervical cancer usually develops slowly. Cervical cancer is extremely rare in women under age 25.

Women ages 65 to 70 who have had at least three normal Pap tests and no abnormal Pap tests in the last 10 years may decide, after talking with their clinician, to stop having Pap tests. Women who have had a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus and cervix) do not need to have a Pap test, unless the surgery was done as a treatment for precancer or cancer.

Also, take note: Having shots against the human papilloma virus (HPV) does not mean that you are immune to cervical cancer. It does reduce your risks but the vaccine is not substitute for cervical cancer screenings.

January has been designated by the US Congress as the National Cervical Health Awareness Month. To step up on awareness, free screenings are being offered in some part of the US. According to the NCCC, the following county health departments offer free cervical cancer screenings:

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

CVD News Watch October 31

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | October 31st, 2008 | by Raquel | no comments

Happy Halloween, everyone. Here is your heart news round up for this week. Plus a couple of reminders: Watch your sweets intake! And for the Americans, don’t forget to vote.

CVD heart treatment watch

Total artificial heart to be ready by 2011: research team

News of hope amidst the financial crisis. Three years from now, a fully implantable artificial heart should be ready, according to French heart transplant specialist Alain Carpentier. The prototype artificial heart has been tested successfully in animals. Although based in France, the project is actually a collaboration between several European scientists, researchers, and funding agencies. However, it’s not only the Europeans, but also Americans, Japanese and Korean scientists who are testing similar prototypes. The European prototype is “made from chemically treated animal tissues, these “biomaterials” are designed to avoid rejection by the patient’s immune system or blood clotting, a recurrent problem with existing artificial hearts.” This is really good news for those who are waiting for a heart donor.

CVD patient watch

Are you phonagnosic?

Phonagnosia is a condition wherein a person does not have the ability to recognize voices. Phonagnosia is very rare and has been reported after suffering a stroke or brain damage. “[It] has only been documented so far in people with brain lesions in the right hemisphere following a stroke or brain damage, and the mechanisms behind it are not well understood. Researchers at the University College London reports a first and only case of somebody born with phonagnosia in the journal Neuropsychologia.

CVD obesity watch

Scripps research scientists develop a new strategy to fight obesity

Is an immunotherapeutic approach the answer to the obesity epidemic? Antibodies to fight obesity? Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute tested an antibody in mice that works against the gastric hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin has been linked to weight gain and fat storage. The antibody catalyst GHR-11E11 increased the metabolic rate and suppressed feeding in treated laboratory mice.

CVD health care watch

Patients’ Perception of Hospital Care in the United States

This study evaluated the perception of Americans regarding healthcare in their country. The results show that most Americans are moderately satisfied with the care they received in clinics and hospitals.  The survey of patient perception is based on the following six components: communication with physicians, communication with nurses, communication about medications, quality of nursing services, adequacy of planning for discharge, and pain management. The best-rated hospital has 67.4% of a hospital’s of its patients declare that they definitely recommend the hospital.

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

Stepping up on awareness of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | September 30th, 2008 | by Raquel | no comments

They are among the lesser known cardiovascular disorders but they are just as dangerous as the others and can cause disability and death.

That’s the reason why the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) published The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

refers to the formation of one or more blood clots (a blood clot is also known as a “thrombus,” while multiple clots are called “thrombi”) in one of the body’s large veins, most commonly in the lower limbs (e.g., lower leg or calf).

These clots can partially or totally block the blood flowing through the vein and can in approximately 50% of all cases manifest in pain, swelling, and discoloration of area affected. The other half of cases of DVT show few or no symptoms and are thus considered asymptomatic or “silent.” More than one third of DVT cases will result in a life-threatening complication called pulmonary embolism (PE).

A PE occurs when a portion of the blood clot breaks loose and travels in the bloodstream, first to the heart and then to the lungs, where it can partially or completely block a pulmonary artery or one of its branches.

DVT may be acute and can go away once treated. It may also be chronic and can recur again and again due to another complication called the postthrombotic syndrome (PTS). PTS occurs when the vein blockage is not cleared completely. The chronic blocking, damages the one-way valves, and results in venous pooling. This leads to,chronic leg pain, swelling, fatigue, and skin ulcers that are difficult to heal.

Every year, about 100,000 people die in the US as a result of DVT and PE.

DVT and PE are preventable and treatable conditions. However, there is a need to step up on awareness of these conditions especially because of the high number of asymptomatic cases. The Office of the Surgeon General, in collaboration with The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is supporting research work that “focuses on understanding the causes of DVT and PE, as well as safe and effective detection methods, treatments, and preventive measures.

In upcoming posts, I will discuss more in detail DVT and PE, the risk factors, the preventive measures, and the treatments.. In the meantime, you can check out:

US Department of Health and Human Services. The surgeon general’s call to action to prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Available at: www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/deepvein/calltoaction/call-to-action-on-dvt-2008.pdf.

 

Photo credit: scol22 at stock.xchng

 

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Battling DIABETES

Diabetes News, Weekend Edition

Categories: DIABETES | September 20th, 2008 | by Tina Radcliffe | no comments

Hope you’re having a great weekend. Here’s what’s new in the world of diabetes care, events and all the etcetera I could find.

 By the way…

 Are You Walking Boston?

     

   2008 Boston Walk to Cure Diabetes 
Saturday, October 4, 2008 at the DCR Hatch Shell

 “A crucial element to the Walk is corporate involvement.  Without dedicated leadership, the Walk to Cure Diabetes would not be the success that it is today.  The JDRF staff would like to welcome Douglas J. Ringler, VMD, Cofounder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Tolerx, as the Corporate Chair of the Boston Walk. Tolerx is one of JDRF’s Industry Discovery and Development partners.  The Cambridge, MA-based biopharmaceutical company is currently conducting Phase III trials for the clinical development of TRX4, an anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody that halts the immune system attack on the beta cells, thereby allowing them to continue to produce natural insulin.”

  Continue Reading »

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

Resource post for September: National Cholesterol Awareness Month

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | September 11th, 2008 | by Raquel | 2 comments

September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month (American Heart Association [AHA]) or National Cholesterol Education Month (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [NHLBI]). It is therefore appropriate that our resource posts for this month will be on cholesterol.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance belonging to the sterol group. It is found in all animal tissues. When we eat meat, cholesterol is absorbed into our body and transported in the blood.

Cholesterols are classified depending on their molecular size. For our health, the important ones are the low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Why is cholesterol important for our health?

The levels of cholesterol in the blood are strong risk factors for heart disease. The higher the LDL cholesterol concentration in your blood, the bigger is your risk to develop cardiovascular disease. HDL cholesterol on the other hand, is considered good for the heart

Heart disease is the primary cause of mortality, not only in the US but on a global scale. About a million heart attacks occur in the US each year and half of these cases result in death.

How does cholesterol damage the heart?

When too much cholesterol is in the blood, it will accumulate on the walls of the arteries, especially the coronary arteries – the main blood vessels supplying blood to the heart. Because of the fatty deposits on the arterial walls, the arteries become narrow, and the walls hardened and less flexible. This constriction of the coronary artery can interfere with the blood supply to the heart. Insufficient blood going to the heart can cause chest pains (angina pectoris). When the artery becomes blocked so that blood supply to the heart is completely cut off, a heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs.

What does your cholesterol test tell you?

Experts recommend that everybody aged 20 and older should have a lipid profile test at least every 5 years to check their blood cholesterol. Cholesterol levels are measured as milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood, or mg/dL.

To give us an idea of what our cholesterol levels mean, check out the table below provided by NHLBI:

  

Total Cholesterol Level

Category

Less than 200 mg/dL

Desirable

200-239 mg/dL

Borderline high

240 mg/dL and above

High

LDL Cholesterol Level

LDL Cholesterol Category

Less than 100 mg/dL

Optimal

100-129 mg/dL

Near optimal/above optimal

130-159 mg/dL

Borderline high

160-189 mg/dL

High

190 mg/dL and above

Very high

HDL cholesterol protects us against heart disease so higher values of HDL are actually positive. An HDL level less than 40 mg/dL is low and increases our risk for developing heart disease. An HDL level of 60 mg/dL or more, on the other hand, can help to lower our risk for heart disease.

What are the things that influence our cholesterol levels?

Our cholesterol levels depend on the following:

  • Age. Our cholesterol levels tend to rise with age.
  • Gender. Premenopausal women generally have lower cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After menopause, women’s cholesterol levels have the tendency to increase.
  • Genetics. Your cholesterol levels might be partly due to your genes. Check out your family history of cholesterol levels.
  • Diet. You are what you eat. And food rich in cholesterol, trans fat and saturated fat are big threats to your cholesterol profile.
  • Weight. Being overweight is another thing that makes your cholesterol levels rise.
  • Physical Activity. A sedentary lifestyle will raise your LDL and lower your HDL.

The first three are things we cannot do anything to change. However, we have the power to change the last three things on the list in order to lower our cholesterol levels and our risk for heart disease

How do we control our cholesterol levels?

Experts at NHLBI recommend 2 main ways to control our cholesterol levels:

This resource post will concentrate on TLC. The topic of cholesterol-lowering drugs will be tackled in another post.

TLC can help us lower our risk for heart disease without drugs and the three things we have to work on are our diet, weight, and exercise as listed above.

Diet. We should lessen our intake of food rich in trans- and saturated fat – French fries, margarine, fried chicken, and other animal products. However, our body needs fat in order to work. What we need are unsaturated fats and they are to be found in vegetable oils, fish, nuts, and olives. If we have to use oil, olive oil is the best option.

Physical Activity. Exercise burns the calories you take in. It is good, not only for the heart, for the muscles, bones, and brains. For newbies to exercise, a slow start is necessary. Beginners’ activities can simple daily tasks like house cleaning and gardening. From there, physical activity can be built up to light-, moderate-, to high-intensity exercises such as walking, jogging, cycling, playing basketball or football.

Weight. Proper diet and exercise are the keys to weight loss and weight control. It’s all in one and the same package. The resources below will give you more detailed ways of lowering and controlling your cholesterol.

Reading resources

Here is some useful information you can download:

For basic information about cholesterol: High Blood Cholesterol – What You Need to Know

A very comprehensive guide with easy-to-follow lifestyle changes tips, heart-friendly recipes, and fun exercises: Your Guide to Lowering Cholesterol with Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC)

Cholesterol resources at the Heart Hub of the American Heart Organization

Sample recipes from Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol, Fourth Edition

 

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

Do you know your risk for heart disease?

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | September 8th, 2008 | by Raquel | no comments

Do you have an undiagnosed risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD)? You think it’s highly unlikely? Well, think again.

According to a British study, one in three people with high cardiovascular risk over the next years are unaware of their risk, and neither are their health care providers. In other words, it is very often that the risk remains undiagnosed until it manifests in overt symptoms. This oversight in risk assessment is especially strongest in middle-aged men.

The study conducted by Oxford University researchers in a mobile clinic looked at 71,037 men and women aged 18 and older all over England, Wales and Scotland. Tests were performed and questionnaires were filled in. The results do not look good.

  • 20% of all male study participants and 6% of female participants have high likelihood of developing CVD in the next 10 years.
  • CVD risk is highest in the 50 plus age group compared to others. 75% of men and 45% of women in this age group have CVD, diabetes, and are taking anti-cholesterol or anti-hypertension drugs.

Based on the results, the participants were classified as having high, medium, or low risk profiles.

People were defined as high risk if they had more than a 20 per cent chance of developing CVD over the next 10 years. This criterion is in line with the Joint British Societies Guidelines on Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Clinical Practice, which were issued in 2005 and endorsed by the UK’s National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence in 2006.  

Based on their risk profiles, the participants were then given appropriate medical advice. High risk individuals were advised to see their doctor, together with their tests. Those with medium risk profiles were given verbal as well as written advice as to how to reduce the risk.

In the UK alone, almost 8 million people have been diagnosed with CVD or have recognized high risk for CVD. However, it is estimated that there are almost 4 million people out there whose risk are undiagnosed and are therefore unaware of this risk. Because of this, they do not concern about preventive measures, lifestyle changes, professional advice or early treatment. Of these, 2.8 million are male and 900,000 are females. If these figures were to be extrapolated on a global scale, the numbers are staggeringly big. There is clearly a need for more awareness of CVD risks and risk factors on the part of patients and health care providers alike.

The most common risk factors for CVD are:

  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Bad nutrition
  • Smoking
  • Genetics

So don’t think you are exempt from CVD risk. Check your lifestyle. Check with your doctor. Remember: early detection means early prevention.

Photo credit: fishmonk at stock.xchng

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

June’s Heart(y) Celebrity – Toni Braxton: Battling heart disease from within and from without

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | June 10th, 2008 | by Raquel | 2 comments

She is not your typical heart patient: she is young, physically fit, and slim. But musical performer and Grammy-award winner Toni Braxton knows how it feels to battle the monster that is heart disease. And she puts her celebrity status to use for a good cause – to increase awareness about heart disease among women.

Four years ago, Toni experienced symptoms of breathless and tightness in her chest during a performance’s intermission and ended up in an emergency room. She was diagnosed to have pericarditis. According to Medline Medical Encyclopedia, pericarditis is

“a disorder caused by inflammation of the pericardium, which is the sac-like covering around the heart. [It] is usually a complication of viral infections… and most often affects men aged 20-50, usually following respiratory infections.”

According to Newsweek, Toni also suffered from hypertension and had to take a beta-blocker medication to keep her blood pressure low. She also walks on a treadmill at least 20 minutes a day and forgoes her favorite salty foods, like burgers with bacon. Instead, salads, asparagus and low-sodium chicken and jambalaya soups are her usual fare.

Earlier this year, the mother of two served as spokeswoman for Campbell Soup Co.’s GoRedWithCampbells campaign. As part of the campaign, Campbell donated $1 to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign for every person who voted for his or her favorite red dress. If you click here, you will see Toni wearing the winning dress designed by Lisa Perry.

Campbell is among the leading food companies who developed food which are heart-healthy, yet delicious. It has also pledged to donate $1.8 million to the American Heart Association within the next 3 years “to help the raise awareness about how heart disease affects women.”

According to the CDC, heart disease killed 696,947 people in the US in 2002 and more than half of them (51%) were women. In Europe, 45 % of female deaths are due to cardiovascular disease compared to 38 % of all deaths in men, according to the European Heart Network 2008 cardiovascular disease statistics.

Toni was again hospitalized in April for chest pains. Despite her health problems she remains committed to the cause of battling heart disease.

Here are Toni’s tips for your heart:

We wish you all the best, Toni. You are not alone in battling the monster.

Photo Credit: Foxy Brown Online downloaded at www.tonibraxtonweb.org/index.php

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

It’s National CPR/AED Awareness Week

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | June 4th, 2008 | by Raquel | 3 comments

Do you know how to perform a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use an an automated external defibrillator (AED)? Do you know how to act in an emergency to help save a life? As part of the National CPR/AED Awareness Week, the American Heart Association (AHA) conducted a survey about the ability of Americans to act appropriately in a cardiac emergency. And the results are a bit disappointing.

The AHA survey was done online and 1,132 responded to the survey, 162 of whom were African Americans and 150 were Hispanics. 89% or the respondents were willing to help in an emergency situation. The rest are not willing or hesitant to help out because of lack of confidence in their life-saving skills, concerns about possible litigation, or fear of doing more harm than good.

Only 21% of those asked were confident they can do a CPR when necessary and only 15% felt confident they can operate an AED.

According to the AHA Fact Sheet:

Clearly there is a need for the general public who are untrained in medical interventions, to learn the basics of giving help during a cardiac emergency.

I have gone through a couple of CPR training programs. Once was at university as part of my training for International Red Cross youth volunteers. Another time was during a one-day emergency training in Germany which was a requirement for getting a German driver’s license. So far, I am lucky that I haven’t been confronted with a situation wherein I have to prove my life-saving skills. But you will never know when those skills will come in handy.

AHA trains more than 10 million people in CPR annually. Those who undergo training are not only health professionals but ordinary people like you and me. AHA tries to make the training simple and easy to remember. As an example:

“The most effective rate for chest compressions is 100 compressions per minute – the same rhythm as the beat of the BeeGee’s song, “Stayin’ Alive.”

In a previous post, we tackled the topic of AEDs. According to AHA

New technology has made AEDs simple and user-friendly. Clear audio and visual cues tell users what to do when using an AED and coach people through CPR. A shock is delivered only if the victim needs it.”

Interested in learning more about CPR and AEDs? Visit the American Heart Association site, or the AHA hands-only CPR site. Your doctor or your local health group can also point you to the right direction.

Photo credit

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

Resource for May: National Blood Pressure Awareness Month

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | May 19th, 2008 | by Raquel | 4 comments

When was the last time you had your blood pressure (BP) checked? Do you know the difference between systole BP and diastole BP and what BP measurements mean for your health? Do you know your risk factors for hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders?

May is the month to start answering these questions. Since 1984, May has been proclaimed as the National Blood Pressure Awareness Month in the United States. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) also calls it the National High Blood Pressure Education Month.

Why is hypertension dangerous? High blood pressure is a major risk for serious cardiovascular disorders such as myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure. Heart diseases and stroke are the leading causes of death in the US.

According to the CDC, approximately 73 million Americans have high blood pressure. The direct and indirect health care costs of high blood pressure were estimated to cost more than 69 billion dollars in 2008.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), you have high blood pressure or hypertension when:

The CDC also gives this definition:

“High blood pressure or hypertension is defined as having a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher or a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher measured on two or more occasions, or taking anti-hypertensive medication. Normal blood pressure levels are considered to be a systolic blood pressure less than 120 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure less than 80 mm Hg. Persons with above normal levels (systolic blood pressure of 120-139 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure of 80-89 mm Hg) but are not hypertensive are considered to have “prehypertension.” These people are at a greater risk of developing hypertension than are persons with normal blood pressure levels.”

As part of its High Blood Pressure Awareness Month program, the AHA is inviting you to check, manage, and monitor your blood pressure with their free and easy-to use suite of online tools.

Blood Pressure Management Center.

This is a web-based tool which allows you to manage your high blood pressure while also keeping track of your body weight, physical activity and more. The tool is a product of a successful AHA alliance with Microsoft and their new consumer health platform, Microsoft HealthVault which “helps us implement our vision around health information technology.”

Blood Pressure Tracking Chart

With this downloadable and printable blood pressure tracking chart, you can track your blood pressure measurements and how they correspond to your weight and overall feeling of well-being. This is an important part of your Home Monitoring Plan after consultation with your doctor.

High Blood Pressure Risk Calculator.

With the latest readings of your blood pressure, you can actually calculate your risks of dying from cardiovascular events such as a heart attack or a stroke, as well as your risks of developing heart failure and kidney disease.

Heart Profilers

With this tool, you can find out more about your condition and about treatments and strategies to help you manage your blood pressure. The tool gives you a confidential personalized report about your treatment options for your condition.

High Blood Pressure e-newsletter

Through this free, monthly e-newsletter, AHA brings you news, tips and even heart-friendly recipes not only on hypertension but also on related diseases such as heart disorders, diabetes, and obesity.

The AHA tools aim to help us understand our health risks, get some quick answers to basic questions about our blood pressure.

In addition, you can also take the high blood pressure quizzes of MayoClinic to find out whether you have your high blood pressure under control and whether you are doing everything you can to manage your hypertension.

The CDC has also been stepping up its efforts for high blood pressure through the

The CDC has also been stepping up its efforts for high blood pressure through the CDC’s State Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program.

“CDC currently funds health departments in 33 states and the District of Columbia to develop effective strategies to reduce the burden of heart disease, stroke, and related risk factors. This program emphasizes the need for policy, environmental, and systems changes that promote heart-healthy and stroke-free living and working conditions.”

I’ve personally tried the High Blood Pressure Risk Calculator and I’m happy with my results. However, getting good results doesn’t mean we should become complacent and forget about our blood pressure. Constant awareness and vigilance is necessary.

If your risk results are not optimal, then it’s probably time to talk to your doctor and discuss your options, including lifestyle changes that can help lower blood pressure and your health risks.

I must admit I am a bit disappointed with my performance on the blood pressure quizzes. It only goes to show again that complacency is something we cannot afford when it comes to our health. And that learning is a continuous process.

Yes, May is high blood pressure awareness month but we should not stop being on guard even when this month is over. Remember, blood pressure can change rather abruptly and with it your health status and your risks.

Photo credit

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Battling HEART AND STROKE

May is High Blood Pressure Awareness Month

Categories: HEART AND STROKE | May 13th, 2008 | by Raquel | no comments

May is High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, as initiated by the American Heart Association (AHA). More details soon!

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Battling CANCER

Spring Cancer Events

Categories: CANCER | April 16th, 2008 | by Tina Radcliffe | 4 comments

tulip.jpgSpring is in the air!

Many cancer support organizations are gearing up for warm weather events.

Consider participating, donating dollars or volunteering your time to support these activities.

Cancer events have many purposes including:

  • fundraising for research
  • awareness and information dissemination
  • inspiration
  • remembering those who have and are still fighting the battle
  • an avenue for loved ones and caregivers to offer support

What’s Going On…

Continue Reading »

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Battling MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

Multiple Sclerosis – How You Can Help

Categories: MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS | April 4th, 2008 | by HART 1-800-HART | one comments

By Lance Winslow

MS or Multiple Sclerosis is something that affects one in every 1,000 people in America. It is quite serious and the body’s own immune system is the culprit, as it attacks the body’s central nervous system, with often horrible consequences. One thing you can do is to spread awareness, volunteer to help or donate money to groups such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Multiple Sclerosis Foundation or the MSAA Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. Every bit helps, money helps too, in order to continue the much needed research to find a solution.

Luckily, there has been some recent notable progress and perhaps within the decade MS, will no longer be a problem, still your assistance is needed. As an online writer, I believe that I can help by spreading awareness and if you are a writer, perhaps you too might learn more so you can help get the word out, so folks understand the serious nature of MS. If you will take a stand, write some articles, talk to friends or help to raise money, maybe MS can be stopped for good.

The National Multiple Sclerosis society for instance advocates scientific research and helps with funding, while simultaneous, educating those with MS and the public. They urge citizens to take charge and create activism in communities and cities. Without such support, the much needed funding will fall short of its goals. March is National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, so now would be a good time to do a lot of good for those afflicted with MS, so they can lead normal and healthy lives in the future. Please do your part.

“Lance Winslow” – Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/. Lance Winslow’s Bio

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lance_Winslow

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Battling CANCER

The Big FIVE-O

Categories: CANCER | March 24th, 2008 | by Tina Radcliffe | 3 comments

Time to start screening for colon/colorectal cancer. NOW!

colon.jpg

The Facts:

March is National Colon/Colorectal Awareness Month.

The lifetime risk for being diagnosed with colorectal cancer is 1 in 19.

90% of all colon cancer diagnoses are in people age 50 or older.

It is the third leading cancer diagnosis in men and the fourth in women.

The disease strikes about 150, 000 people and causes approximately 50,000 deaths per year.

African-American’s are the highest racial or ethnic group at risk in the U.S.

The disease usually starts with a polyp.

The 5 year survival rate for those diagnosed early is 90%

Only 39% of those diagnosed are diagnosed early.

Continue Reading »

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Battling CANCER

Volunteer for breast cancer: Six ways you can start today!

Categories: CANCER | October 24th, 2007 | by Lesly Maranan | 2 comments

I’ve been fortunate in the last month to be blessed with some really good circumstances: a relocation to a new city with great opportunities, employment in a situation that lets me blend the two things that I’m most interested in (science and writing), and the welcome surprise of moving into a great apartment that me, my husband, and my two parrots love.

My family has always instilled in me the sense of giving back when one has been so blessed, so in that spirit of giving, I signed up today to be a volunteer at my local hospital. Incidentally, my local hospital happens to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic, America’s #1 Best Hospital for cancer treatment according to the 2007 US News & World Report. My orientation session is this Friday, and I’m really excited to start. . . and I’d like you to come and join me as a new volunteer!

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Battling STRESS

Curing Stress – Techniques

Categories: STRESS | August 24th, 2007 | by HART 1-800-HART | no comments

No doubt it’s impractical to try to ‘cure’ stress in the sense of eliminating all occurrences. But there are several practical short-term and effective long-term strategies for minimizing it and its effects.

Most individuals under stress will let it build, ignoring it for too long. They cite the need to get a work project completed, or view their situation as unchangeable. “That’s life,” many will say. But no form of ill-effect is inevitable, nor is it necessary or wise to passively accept one.

The first step is always to increase awareness in two directions – outward and inward. Be conscious of your internal state and evaluate it as realistically as possible. Be objective about external circumstances. When you recognize a circumstance as legitimately worrisome, reacting with concern and a degree of stress is normal and healthy. Unreasonable fear and obsession are not.

Then, take a moment to breath – literally. One of the most common reactions to stress is tension, usually muscle tension. The neck muscles will stiffen and breathing will often be more shallow. Focus on this, check for it and, if present, consciously loosen up neck muscles with a gentle side to side motion of your head. Take a deep breath or two.

There’s no need to overdo the exercise. You’re not practicing yoga and you don’t want to hyperventilate. Slowly move the head and shoulders and relax the chest muscles. A slow deep breath or two is often enough to break the tension.

But those suggestions are effective primarily for acute stress – the type that is produced by an isolated event and lasts a short time. For chronic stress – that which results from ongoing circumstances and evaluations and persists – additional techniques are needed.

Something as simple and old-fashioned as a walk in the park can be helpful. It’s not simply an old wives tale that fresh air and sunshine can be relaxing. It’s also true that moderate exercise helps relieve many of the accompanying physical symptoms of stress.

Playing music of certain types is helpful. Seeing a comedy on TV or at the movies is beneficial. Laughter is a great mood lifter. A creative activity can be helpful, especially if there is some accompanying physical activity. It could be as simple as making a birdhouse or as advanced as painting or sculpture.

A talk with a sympathetic friend could be useful, but it’s a good idea not to spend too much time talking about the circumstances causing stress or the stress itself. A good airing is beneficial, but too many times it’s an excuse to obsess over the problem. Some people are too much inclined to seek out only those who will reinforce negative evaluations.

Just keep in mind that these are all techniques to help relieve symptoms, they don’t address the underlying causes. As such, they are only one (albeit important) component in curing stress. For that, more in-depth action is needed.

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Battling MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

9 Myths of Multiple Sclerosis

Categories: MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS | July 17th, 2007 | by HART 1-800-HART | no comments

F.Y.I.

I have updated the links recently on our Battling-MS Myths page …

* special thanks to Michael T. Vitale of the National M.S. Society of New York

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Battling MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

Understand Multiple Sclerosis To Fight It

Categories: MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS | May 11th, 2007 | by HART 1-800-HART | no comments

By Jon Arnold

Most people do not realize how wide-spread the affliction of multiple sclerosis is in today’s world. It affects tens of thousands of people, but it is one of those diseases where a very mild form of it could almost go unnoticed by the general public, and allow the patient to live a pretty normal day to day life. But for others, the effects of multiple sclerosis can be harsh.

Multiple sclerosis is generally considered to be a disease of the nervous system. With most patients, MS gets worse over time, although that time can be anywhere from a few weeks to several years, since the rate of degradation differs from person to person. The most obvious effect is the loss of motor controls within the central nervous system, starting with a loss of eeling and a loss of control over normal movements and speaking.

From a medical standpoint, MS affects the body’s central nervous system and breaks down the signals that go to the brain. This involves the threat to the different nerves and nerves sensors or fibers, also involving a threat to the brain, spinal cord, as well as in many patients, the optical nerve. What happens is that multiple sclerosis damages the enzymes and proteins that provide a defense or safeguard to those nerve fibers. This protective substance is known as myelin, where the primary purpose of myelin is to aid in the communications between the various nerve cells. Once the myelin safeguard is damaged or begins to break down, this causes a breakdown in the communications between the various nerve centers and their coordination.

Multiple Sclerosis, as various studies have indicated, seems to primarily be hereditary. Medical research has shown that the children of parents where either one of the parents has been diagnosed with MS are very likely to be afflicted with it. Certain hormones, particularly hormones associated with sex like progesterone and estrogen have proven to weaken the immune system and have the potential to cause MS.

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis are not readily evident unless you are watching for them. Since MS affects the central nervous system, the first indications of MS would be a lack of balance or tremors. Such symptoms should not be ignored if they persist beyond a few hours, and should be checked as soon as possible with your doctor.

Although it may sound trite, the best preventive measure you can take against multiple sclerosis is ensuring that you have a very rich and balanced diet. Your diet plays a significant role in almost anything you do, and the prevention of MS is certainly among those things. A balanced diet of the right foods will strengthen the immune system and help it fight against the breakdown of the myelin proteins.

Once you have been diagnosed with MS, there are many things that can be prescribed for you. Your doctor will undoubtedly recommend a balanced diet to keep your immune system and the nervous system safeguards as healthy as possible. There are also some natural remedies that have been shown to be effective against MS, and you can learn more about natural remedies at Natural Remedies For Better Health. The most important piece, however, is to get an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible so that measures can be taken to fight it quickly.

Jon is a computer engineer who maintain a variety of web sites based on his knowledge and experience. For more information about Multiple Sclerosis, please visit his web site at Multiple Sclerosis Explained.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jon_Arnold

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Battling DEPRESSION

What Does It Mean To Be Depressed?

Categories: DEPRESSION | February 19th, 2007 | by HART 1-800-HART | no comments

By Steve Thayer

Depression is an overused word to describe how someone may be feeling. It is often used to describe moments of sadness or disappointment, where those descriptions may be more on target and more clearly define a course of action.

Clinical depression is more than feeling bad for a few days; it is a common, yet serious, illness that affects almost 10% of Americans each year. Unfortunately, only one-third of sufferers seek treatment even though getting assistance can help 80 percent of all people who are affected. Although depression is a real medical illness, many people still mistakenly believe it is a personal weakness. Events such as the death of a loved one, divorce, financial strains, moving to a new location or significant loss can contribute to the onset of clinical depression. It is not only negative events that can trigger depression. It is often the sum of many events, even good ones like getting married or finding a new job.

If you have experience 5 or more of the symptoms below for more than 2 to 3 weeks it is time to talk to your doctor and/or a counselor.

• Do you feel sad or irritable?
• Have you lost interest in activities once enjoyed?
• Have you experienced changes in weight or appetite?
• Have you experienced changes in sleeping pattern?
• Do you have feelings of guilt?
• Are you unable to concentrate, remember things, or make decisions?
• Have you experienced fatigue or loss of energy?
• Have you experienced restlessness or decreased activity noticed by others?
• Do you feel hopeless, or worthless?
• Have you had thoughts of suicide or death?

Clinical depression is one of the most readily treatable illnesses, and getting treatment can truly save lives. The most common ways to treat depression are with antidepressant medication, psychotherapy (talk therapy), or a combination of both.

Steve Thayer is a California State Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Certified Financial Planner™, and co-owner of www.MyVitalFiles.com, a Home Filing Solutions Company. He has written articles for various publications for 30 years, and besides working in counseling and financial consulting, his goal is to help make life less tedious and more fulfilling for people by developing paperwork filing solutions.

You may contact him at www.MyVitalFiles.com and steve@MyVitalFiles.com.

© Steve Thayer 2007 All rights Reserved – May not be copied or distributed with our the authors permission.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Steve_Thayer

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Battling DEPRESSION

Do Not Accept Depression as a Normal Part of Aging

Categories: DEPRESSION | January 31st, 2007 | by HART 1-800-HART | no comments

By Connie Limon

Depression is not a part of getting older. If you are one in the senior age groups and you are feeling more depressed today than yesterday and days before yesterday try to determine what it is that is causing your “down” feelings.

First of all, are you one that focuses on the flaws and failures of your life? If you sit and ponder about all the mistakes you have made thus far you could be suffering a bit from low self-esteem. Low self-esteem can result in a “distorted self-image that can feed your depressed mood. In fact, as long as you have a low self concept of yourself you are going to feel down and depressed much of the time. This is probably not a clinical or serious bout of depression, but something you can work on daily to improve.

Most people feel bad about themselves from time to time. I truly do not think there is anyone who is on top of the mountain all the time. Your temporary feelings of low self-esteem may also be triggered by being treated poorly by someone else recently or in the past. Don’t let low self-esteem be your constant companion especially if it progresses to affecting your mood. There is no need for anyone to go through life feeling badly about their present or past life. Low self-esteem keeps you from enjoying life, and doing the things you truly want to do each day of your life.

Instead of sitting and thinking about your flaws and your failures try some tips to help you battle those feelings of low self-esteem.

Try making lists. Reread your lists often. Rewrite your list from time to time. If you have a journal, write your lists there. If you don’t, any kind of notebook or piece of paper will work.

Your list should include:

• At least 5 of your strengths

• At least 5 things you admire about yourself

• Five of the greatest achievements in your life so far

• At least 20 other accomplishments (can be as simple as learning to sew a button on a shirt) to as great as a Masters Degree in Business Management

• 10 ways you can “treat” or “reward” yourself that does not include food and does not cost you anything, such as a walk in a favorite park or wooded area, shopping just to be browsing around, or chatting with a favorite friend

• 10 things you can do to make yourself laugh

• 10 things you could do to help someone else

• As many things as you can think of that makes you feel good about yourself.

Read through your list frequently, re-write the list as needed.

Other things you can do to help elevate your down feelings is to prepare for major life changes such as retirement or moving from a home of many years. These types of changes sometimes bring discomfort. If you do a little planning ahead you can find ways to make the changes easier.

You can develop a hobby. Hobbies are excellent ways to help keep your mind and body active.

Stay in touch with your family.

Get physically active. Being active truly does help. Exercise can even help prevent depression and lift your mood if you are already depressed. There are many different kinds of ways you can get and stay active. Examples are:

• Walking outdoors, shopping malls or fitness centers

• Gardening

• Dancing

• Swimming (if you can swim, this is one activity that works out every muscle in your body).

Older people who are depressed can gain benefit from mild forms of exercise like walking and walking in shopping malls or fitness centers. Being physically fit and eating a balanced diet helps avoid physical illnesses that may lead to disability or depression.

If you are an older woman chances are you still spend a lot of time nurturing other people. This is truer for women than men even for the older women still working outside the home. A woman spends more time buying and giving the birthday cards in a family and friends circle. They are the ones who call the sick to help and support and do much of the work coordinating caring for members of their family and circle of friends. It seems our American culture depends and expects the woman to be self-sacrificing rather than self-nurturing. A woman who puts herself first is often seen as “selfish.”

If you are an older man, our culture has probably placed more emphasis on you getting ahead in this world. This oftentimes places a man distant from the “caring and nurturing” side of the equation.

What equals the above two is women are pressed to give to others and men are pushed toward the receiving end. This imbalance between the two genders creates sources of distress and depression for both. Actually men and women, of all ages, can benefit from learning to focus on themselves in healthy, rejuvenating ways.

If you experience more depression as you age, do not accept this as being just a normal part of getting older. It is not true at all. When depression is treated at any age, most people find positive thoughts gradually begin to replace the negative ones. Practice the few simple techniques as outlined in this article plus learn to do more self-nurturing. And by all means, if you are still feeling blue, seek out professional medical help.

*Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is not meant to diagnose or treat any kind of a physical or mental problem. All physical and mental symptoms and problems should be addressed by a Medical Professional of your choice.

Source: National Institute of Health

This article is FREE to publish with the resource box.

Author: Connie Limon. Please visit our Nutrition and Health Article Collection at nutritionandhealthhub.com

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Connie_Limon

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LAST FIVE POSTS

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: ADDICTION

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: ALHEIMER's DISEASE

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: CANCER

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: DEPRESSION

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: DIABETES

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: HEARING LOSS

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: HEART and STROKE

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: OBESITY

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: SCHIZOPHRENIA

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: STRESS

  • BATTLING THE MONSTER: VISION