Heart Health Improved in 6 Easy Steps

6 Simple Ways To Boost Your Heart Health Today

heart healthHeart health doesn’t happen by itself and it usually doesn’t happen overnight. There are some decisions you can make today that can start you on a path towards having a healthy heart. Here are six things you can do today to boost your heart health so you don’t fall victim toheart attacks, strokes, or peripheral vascular disease:1. Look through your pantry. There are things you can eat that will increase your risk for heart disease, just as there are things you can eat that will reduce your risk of heart disease. Check your pantry for foods that are high in cholesterol, such as meats, high fat dairy products, and certain processed foods. Processed foods are also high in bad fats, such as trans fats, although the US government has made progress in reducing trans fats in the foods you purchase. Look for foods that are high in dietary sugar and replace them with low sugar foods and foods that contain no sugar. Instead of red meat, you can choose fatty fish, which are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which are considered heart healthy. Instead of cakes and cookies, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with whole fruits, which are high in dietary fiber and antioxidants, which have health benefits you can’t get through eating low fiber, high sugar foods.2. Start an exercise program. This means getting off the couch and getting out there to do some form of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is particularly good at increasing your heart rate, increasing your respiratory rate, and lowering your blood pressure. You should aim to exercise in an aerobic exercise about 30 minutes per day on most days of the week. Aerobic exercises you can do include brisk walking, running, jogging, using a stair-stepper, bicycling, and swimming. Swimming is especially good for people who want to exercise but cannot tolerate the wear and tear on the joints. You should also consider doing some kind of weight training about two days per week. Weight training tones muscles and increases your basal metabolic rate so that you can burn calories more effectively, even without exercising. You should make exercise a family affair so you can do things as a group and reduce all of your family’s risks of heart disease.

The perils of sneezing incorrectly

the perils of sneezing incorrectlt
Although no one likes a cold, you have to admit that a powerful sneeze can feel pretty good. In fact, I’ve heard that a sneeze is equivalent to one-third of an orgasm.
I’m fairly sure that that statistic isn’t backed up by peer-reviewed research, but you get my point.
But, as a wise man once said, ‘All that glitters is not gold.’ Sneezing may give you a pleasurable shiver, but, as we shall learn, it can also cause significant damage to your innards if you do it wrong.
Spontaneous rupture of the back of the throat is a rare occurrence. When it does happen, it is most often caused by a surgical procedure gone wrong or blunt neck trauma.
So, when a young, healthy 34-year-old who hadn’t been in an accident rocked up at an emergency room with a ruptured throat, the doctors were a tad perplexed.
The man explained that he had attempted to quash a sneeze by blocking his nostrils and mouth. He experienced an immediate popping sensation in his neck, which quickly swelled up. As time passed, it became painful to swallow, and his voice vanished almost entirely.
When the doctors examined him, they detected cracking and popping sounds, or crepitus, from his neck down to his ribcage. Crepitus is a sign that air bubbles have gained entrance to the deep tissues and muscles of the chest.
A scan confirmed that, as expected, the man had air bubbles in places where there shouldn’t be any air.
It turns out that one of the man’s sinuses, perhaps the piriform sinus, had perforated thanks to the sudden increase in pharyngeal pressure.
Just to give you the low-down on related medical terminology, when a gas enters tissues beneath the skin, it is referred to as subcutaneous emphysema. Meanwhile, pneumomediastinum occurs when air is found in the mediastinum, which is the central compartment of the thoracic cavity. Just to give you the low-down on related medical terminology, when a gas enters tissues beneath the skin, it is referred to as subcutaneous emphysema. Meanwhile, pneumomediastinum occurs when air is found in the mediastinum, which is the central compartment of the thoracic cavity.
This unfortunate man experienced both of the above.Via medicalnewstoday.com
Image courtesy medicalnewstoday.com

Cold Or Allergies: How To Tell The Difference

Cold Or Allergies: How To Tell The DifferenceIt’s springtime. Pollen is in the air. Lots of it. Your car is coated with it, and you can’t sit on your patio furniture without having a backside covered in it.
Many people deal with seasonal allergies every year. They know the drill. On the other hand, you may have never had outdoor allergies in your life. But don’t be fooled, adults are newly diagnosed with allergies on a regular basis.
‘Maybe it’s just a cold,’ you say to yourself. It seems a lot like a cold. The symptoms are awfully similar. And June from work has it, too. So how do you tell the difference between a cold and allergies?

You Have Allergies If You’re Experiencing…

Clear, Watery Drainage.

In response to allergens, your mucous membranes become more productive. Allergens provoke your body to create mucus with histamine which leads to swelling of the nasal passage and production of clear, watery drainage.
This does not include gunky, green, globs. Yellow, red, or brown doesn’t count either.

Symptoms Past 7-10 Days

In the beginning, your symptoms will be really bad, but your symptoms will stay the same far beyond the normal window of a cold. In fact, they stay the whole entire time the allergen is in the air. For instance, ragweed or grass pollen can linger for six weeks.

Itchy, Watery Eyes

This may be the most uncomfortable allergy symptom for some folks. Your eyes release histamine when they come into contact with pollen floating in the air. Then they turn red and beg to be itched. Your lacrimal glands produce fluid to attempt to rid your eyes of the allergen.


It’s common to sneeze with colds, too, but you’ll notice that sneezing with allergies accompanies you going outside, and not necessarily inside.
If there’s an open window or door, then you’re likely to sneeze inside. But most of the time, your sneezing occurs when you’re in close contact with the allergens.

Symptoms that Worsen in Certain Situations

Like with sneezing, you know it’s allergies if your symptoms get worse depending on where you are. It’s not just sneezing, but all of these symptoms. If you’re out for a picnic and you notice your symptoms flaring up, then it’s allergies.

You Have a Cold If You’re Experiencing…


Although fever isn’t super common for most people, some individuals do get a mild increase in temperature. You know if you’re having a fever, then it’s definitely not allergies.

Body Aches

Again, not always common with colds but because it’s a viral infection, your body may experience aches and discomfort as it tries to heal. Mild aches is not a thing for allergies.

Thick or Discolored Discharge

What’s tricky here is that nasal discharge with a cold can be watery in the beginning, like allergies. But as the days progress, your discharge will become thick and, most of the time, green. That’s when a neti pot comes in handy!

Symptom Changes or Symptom Resolution

The average cold lasts seven to 10 days with varying degrees of symptoms. Usually, your symptoms start with a sore throat that resolves and leads to congestion and nasal discharge.
The absolute maximum length of time for a cold is two weeks. Anything more than that is either allergies or more serious infection that needs to be addressed by your physician.

Final Thoughts

Despite the differences, you’ll treat a cold or allergies exactly the same way. Lay on the nasal decongestants, steroids, and antihistamines, or whatever natural remedies you favor.
If you have a cold, you’ll want to rest and heal. With allergies, you’ll simply need to be patient and avoid the allergen, which can be a bummer when it’s so beautiful outside this time of year.

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5 Ways to Keep Mosquitoes from Ruining Your Summer

keep mosquitoes from ruining your summerWith all the current news about the spread of the Zika virus, mosquitoes are no longer just annoying but can pose a serious health threat in certain parts of the world. Here are 5 tips on how you can protect yourself…
Even when mosquitoes are not carrying viruses or other diseases, they appear to be on a mission to ruin summer fun.
No one wants to pay for cookouts and pool parties with itchy bites. Here are five ways to keep the pesky insects away, according to the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District’s public information officer, Levy Sun:1. REMOVE STANDING WATERkeep mosquitoes from ruining your summer
This is the single most effective way to prevent mosquitoes from invading your home and backyard. And if you need an incentive to dump out containers sooner rather than later, there’s this: Mosquitoes can lay 100 eggs at a time, and those eggs can become biting adults in just one week’s time.2. REACH FOR THE RIGHT REPELLENT
The insect repellent aisle can be overwhelming with so many options, and some, like DEET, are controversial. But in terms of effectiveness, Sun said, repellents listing picaridin, IR3535 or DEET as their active ingredients should work well. A natural repellent choice is oil of lemon eucalyptus.3. PUT A FISH TO WORK
That’s right – a mosquitofish will gladly prey on mosquitoes as they attempt to breed in water, as well as on mosquito larvae. If you are lucky enough to have a standing body of water on your property, like a pond or an ornamental fountain, you can request some mosquitofish from the Vector Control District onlinehere or by calling the district headquarters at (562) 944-9656 or the Sylmar branch at (818) 364-9589. But note: It is against California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations for private citizens to plant mosquitofish without a permit.


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Why Is Adequate Vitamin Intake So Important

Performing a plethora of roles to maintain good health and development, vitamins are essential nutrients that we can’t live without.Adequate Vitamin Intake
Yet there are so many that perform wonders without our even actually being aware of it until we don’t get sufficient amounts and problems occur.Vitamins are characterized by the following:

  • They’re found naturally in food, with varying amounts
  • They can’t be made by the body (save for vitamin D after sun exposure)
  • They are organic in their structure and can be broken down by air, heat or acid, making it more difficult for your body to absorb them since cooking and storage affects their chemical structure – even exposure to air.
  • They’re crucial for normal and healthy development and functions
  • When they become absent from the diet, it can cause certain deficiencies

There are 13 essential vitamins which are divided into 2 categories:


  • B vitamins
  • Biotin (vitamin B7)
  • Folic acid (folate, vitamin B9)
  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Thiamin (vitamin B1)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C

These vitamins need to be replenished on a daily basis since they’re easily absorbed into the bloodstream as food is digested or supplements are dissolved. Present in the watery sections of the food you eat, water-soluble vitamins are continuously regulated via your kidneys. Any excess is flushed out with urine.Some of the roles these vitamins play are:

  • produce and release energy
  • boost immune system
  • maintain tissue health
  • build proteins and cells
  • Produce collagen present in skin cells, blood vessel walls and gums that aids in the process of healing wounds


  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

These vitamins are quite difficult to figure out because we’re more likely to be deficient in these types of vitamins; yet taking them for prolonged periods of time, especially supplements, can be toxic and very harmful to your health. These vitamins aren’t as easily transported through the body as water-soluble vitamins.
In fact, any excess is stored in the liver and fat tissues for up to 6 months. First, they’re absorbed through the intestinal wall, then they enter the lymph vessels before making their way into the bloodstream.
Most fat-soluble vitamins need a protein carrier to facilitate their movement throughout the body.Fat-soluble vitamins are responsible for the following:

  • protect vision
  • build bones
  • protect the body against illnesses, diseases, and free radical damage
  • blood clotting
  • formation of healthy red blood cells
  • interact together favorably to enhance absorption

Vitamin Deficiencies

Unfortunately, nutrient deficiencies are extremely common. The main culprits are poor diet, digestive problems, or chronic stress.
‘Nutrient deficiencies alter bodily functions and processes at the most basic cellular level,’ says lecturer at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health in Washington, DC, Tricia L. Psota, PhD, RDN. ‘These processes include water balance, enzyme function, nerve signaling, digestion, and metabolism.
Resolving these deficiencies is important for optimal growth, development, and function.’ They can also lead to diseases and chronic illnesses.
A common example is the lack of vitamin D and calcium can cause osteoporosis, a condition characterized by brittle bones.People who are at most risk for nutritional deficiencies are:

  • the elderly
  • athletes who train intensively for long periods of time
  • those with low income
  • smokers
  • consumers of alcoholic beverages
  • Some of the most common symptoms of vitamin deficiency are:
  • hair loss
  • oral health problems
  • muscle cramps in the calves and arches of the feet
  • muscle weakness
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • irregular heartbeats
  • mental fogginess

Every one of the 13 vitamins has a certain role but each also works in unison with the other 12 to lead to the best possible physical condition. This is why it’s so important to eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, beans and lentils, lean meat, and fish to make sure you’re getting all the essential nutrients your body needs to prevent deficiency, promote fat loss and enhance muscle gain.
Supplements and multivitamins are a great way to make sure you’re getting the vitamins you need. Talk to your doctor to make sure you’re getting the right amount instead of getting too little and not getting the most out of your supplements or getting too much and increasing your risk for toxic reactions. A simple blood test is all you need to know whether or not you’re vitamin deficient.

A Pulmonary Physician’s Take on Vaping

Walking down the street, I sometimes see people who appear to be strolling in a cloud. These folks are wrapped in vapor they inhale from e-cigarettes – a practice called vaping.
Vaping devices first emerged in the late 1990s. They feature a battery-powered heating element that heats up liquid nicotine to create an aerosol, which is free from the toxic byproducts of cigarette combustion. In theory, this device could make it easier and safer for smokers to kick the habit.
As a pulmonary physician, I wince when I hear about people voluntarily inhaling any foreign substance. We are already exposed to more environmental toxins than we realize, adding something else seems unwise. However, quitting smoking is extremely difficult. Most remedies have been only slightly effective at best. Could vaping help?
After a decade or more of scientific studies, we know a few facts about e-cigarettes, although many questions still remain.
Here are the key points:1. The e-cigarette market is growing. Several studies have shown that between 2010-2013, the use of these devices had more than tripled to include seven percent of the U.S. population. Most users are young and/or former smokers. About one-third have never smoked before. Nicotine is highly addictive which is why smokers have difficulty stopping. Vaping is popular among high school students, and their teachers fear that this will lead to cigarette smoking and other addictive habits.
This effect has been observed in a few studies, but the trend is unclear. In 2015, the e-cigarette use rate among high school students declined from 16 percent to 11 percent. However, there is some evidence that e-cigarette use in high school students is a risk for taking up cigarette smoking.2. E-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes. Both e-cigarette vapor and cigarette smoke contain nicotine, but only cigarette smoke has the harmful products of tobacco combustion. For that reason, most experts consider the e-cigarette to be safer than regular tobacco cigarettes. However, in both cases, inhaled nicotine stimulates the cardiovascular system. It is unknown whether this effect has long-term consequences such as heart disease or hypertension.3. E-cigarettes may help smokers quit – but the effect is small. The vast majority of e-cigarette users are current or former smokers. Based on research surveys, these patients are either trying to quit smoking or at least reduce their cigarette consumption. Many studies have compared e-cigarettes to other methods of smoking cessation such as nicotine patches, counseling, etc. These studies have been inconclusive. A panel of experts recently suggested that e-cigarettes may slightly improve smoking cessation but the magnitude of the effect is small.4. It’s too early to know all the risks of using e-cigarettes. These devices expose the user to liquid nicotine and chemicals that create the vapor. The chemicals involved with vaping – propylene glycol and glycerol – when heated, are known to produce carcinogens and compounds that irritate the airways. The exact risk from this exposure is currently unknown, though it is thought to be much lower than that of a regular cigarette. Therefore, for a smoker, switching to the lower risk e-cigarette is a good trade-off. But for non-smokers, using an e-cigarette introduces potential risk for lung disease and cancer. Outbreaks of asthma have already been reported in association with vaping.5. E-Cigarettes are regulated differently around the world. The World Health Organization has called for strict regulatory control of e-cigarettes by keeping them away from non-smokers and minors. Some countries have banned the devices altogether.
In the U.S, many initially opposed these devices, presuming that they would lead to an increase in cigarette smoking. Some of this fervor has died down and is now focused on minors. At the moment, most states prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors – the same policy as for cigarettes.
The FDA’s new director, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, has taken a fresh approach this problem. The FDA has established a program to fight nicotine addiction by reducing levels in tobacco and other products. Included in this mandate are continued surveillance of the safety and public health effects of e-cigarettes.
If this program is implemented, the role of e-cigarettes in public health may become clear. Ideally, e-cigarettes will rescue smokers from their habit – without recruiting new ones.
Of course, the e-cigarette industry has other plans. Although some vaping devices carry a hefty price tag, overall vaping is relatively cheap and safer than cigarettes to boot. The industry is using those facts to leverage the market. Analysts predict that the vaping industry will see annual growth of 20 percent over the next decade with worldwide revenues of $50 billion by the next decade. Most of those dollars will come from the industry’s best customers – Americans and Europeans.
If vaping becomes widely used, we may learn that it is safe. But we can’t rule out the opposite outcome either. Widespread vaping across large populations may introduce us to new diseases that could have been prevented.
There is a high cost for ignoring such potential risks. Just ask any patient who has suffered from the toxic effects of asbestos, second-hand smoke or radon exposure.Mark Kelley is a pulmonologist and founder,HealthWeb Navigator, where this article originally appeared.Image credit: Shutterstock.com
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Tips for Good Health at Every Age

Tips for Good Health at Every Age
Although there may not be a fountain of youth, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your chances for a long, healthy life.
Follow this expert advice from our Palo Alto Medical Foundation primary care doctors to do the best for your health at each life stage.Childhood and Teen Years
‘I think one of the most important things parents can do is help their kids cultivate wellness behaviors right from the start, ‘ says Radhika Varma, M.D., a family medicine doctor at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
Habits developed in early childhood are much more likely to be carried into adulthood. So it’s important to minimize or eliminate junk food and soda in favor of fresh fruit and vegetables, and encourage exercise.
‘But you can’t just talk about these things with your children, ‘ she says. ‘You need to actively participate. Take a walk as a family instead of watching TV. Be a healthy role model. It’s the best gift you can give your kids.’
Of course, regular check-ups at the doctor are vitally important, as are immunizations. Throughout childhood, kids should be vaccinated against a host of diseases including polio, diphtheria, measles, mumps and rubella.
Healthy sleep habits are also important. ‘There needs to be a ‘lights out time’ for computers, tablets and cell phones, ‘ says Lisa Hladik, M.D., an internist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. ‘Otherwise, kids can easily stay up all night playing online games, texting or hanging out on social media sites.’
Also, make sure children learn early on to be safety conscious. That means using seat belts in the car, wearing appropriate protective clothing during sports activities and donning helmets whenever they use wheels of any kind – bikes, skates or scooters.
And don’t skip the awkward topics. ‘As children grow into adolescence, parents need to start the discussion around risky behaviors involving drugs, alcohol and sex, ‘ says Tarini Anand, M.D., an internist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.The ‘Invincible’ Years

jill111 / Pixabay

In their 20s and 30s, people often feel indestructible and in little need of medical attention. But it’s important to see a doctor routinely to be screened for depression, infections and signs of early stage disease.
‘There are few, if any, symptoms associated with elevated blood pressure, cholesterol or sugar levels, ‘ says Dr. Anand. ‘That’s why I stress to my patients in this life stage to come in regularly for their annual screenings and to focus on healthy habits.’
STD screenings are also important, Dr. Hladik says. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most commonly transmitted STD and can be detected by a simple Pap smear. Between the ages of 21 and 30, women should get a Pap test at least once every three years. Between 30 and 40, your doctor may switch to once every five years.
‘If you’re sexually active, you also need to have a regular chlamydia screening with each new partner, ‘ she says. ‘Chlamydia is the second most common STD. It has no symptoms and, left untreated, can cause permanent sterility. But if caught early, it’s easily cured.’Middle Age
‘At 50, both men and women should have their first colonoscopy, ‘ says Dr. Varma. ‘If no problems are discovered, the test should be repeated once every 10 years.’
Fifty is also the age when men should consider being screened for prostate cancer, particularly for African American men or those who have a family history of the disease.
Heart disease is also more common in people 50 and above, so it’s crucial to eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise.
For women in their 50s, menopause can cause hormonal changes leading to mood swings, hot flashes and sexual problems. A doctor can provide a variety of tools to help combat these symptoms.
Risk for cancer increases in the 40 to 60 age range. For women, annual Pap smears are important to screen for cancer of the cervix. Regular mammograms are also recommended to detect breast cancer early.
Adults over 60 should make sure their vaccines are up-to-date, and to talk to their doctors about immunizations for shingles and pneumonia. And, ‘If you haven’t stopped smoking by now, quit!’ says Dr. Hladik.
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