Archive | August 2018

QUOTE FOR FRIDAY:

“In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to elevated levels of CRP as a potential risk factor for atherosclerosis.”

U.S. National Library of Medicine

How High C-Reactive protein can risk your chance of Heart Disease!

Your body produces C-reactive protein, or CRP, when something is starting to become inflamed. So if a doctor finds CRP in your blood, which he can do through a test, he’ll know there’s inflammation (or swelling) happening somewhere in your body.If your arteries are inflamed, you have a greater risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral arterial disease

C-Reactive Protein & Heart Disease Risk

CRP seems to predict the chance of having cardiovascular problems at least as well as cholesterol levels. A recent study found that elevated levels of C-reactive protein led to a three-times-greater risk of a heart attack.

They also were more likely to have a cardiac procedure, like angioplasty (a procedure that opens clogged arteries with the use of a flexible tube) or bypass surgery, than those with the lowest CRP levels.

How Is C-Reactive Protein Measured?

It’s done with a simple blood test. It can be done at the same time your cholesterol is checked.

Your chance of having heart disease is determined based on your test results:

Test Result Risk
Less than 1.0 mg Low
1.0-2.9 mg Intermediate
Greater than 3.0 mg High

It’s important to note that inflammation due to other things, like an infection, illness, or serious flare-up of arthritis, can also raise CRP levels. So before you get the CRP test, make sure to tell your doctor what other medical conditions you have.

When should I be tested for CRP?

If you’re at moderate risk for heart disease, it may help your doctor figure out if you need more intensive treatment.

Those at high risk should be treated aggressively, anyway. So CRP testing isn’t recommended for them.

The more of these risk factors you have, the higher your risk of heart disease:

  • A previous heart attack or stroke
  • A family history of heart disease
  • High total cholesterol
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Being male or a post-menopausal woman
  • You smoke cigarettes
  • Uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure
  • You don’t exercise
  • You’re obese or overweight

What’s the Treatment for High C-Reactive Protein?

It’s important for everyone to make these lifestyle changes to reduce their chance of having heart disease. It’s especially important if your CRP level is intermediate or high:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  • Get your high cholesterol down.
  • Keep your weight where it should be.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, manage it.
  • If you smoke or use tobacco in another way, quit.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly.

Taking aspirin may help protect you from heart disease if your CRP is high. By thinning your blood it makes the heart pump easier in doing its job.  This puts the heart at less risk of stressing out=lack of oxygen if stressing out=angina (chest pain).  Statins, the most commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs, may reduce your risk of heart disease if your CRP is high. Talk to your doctor about which treatments are best for you.

Remember:

QUOTE FOR THURSDAY:

“1 out of every 10 new cases is linked to obesity.  Researchers attributed 500,000 new cancer cases worldwide in just one year to obesity. Carrying too much weight is already a known risk factor for certain cancers, including breast, colorectal and pancreatic.”

Cancer Treatment Centers of America

QUOTE FOR WEDNESDAY:

“First brought to the attention of the medical community by war veterans; Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.”

MAYO CLINIC

 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Many risk factors revolve around the nature of the traumatic event itself.

Traumatic events are more likely to cause PTSD when they involve a severe threat to your life or personal safety: the more extreme and prolonged the threat, the greater the risk of developing PTSD in response. Intentional, human-inflicted harm—such as rape, assault, and torture— also tends to be more traumatic than “acts of God” or more impersonal accidents and disasters. The extent to which the traumatic event was unexpected, uncontrollable, and inescapable also plays a role.

PTSD can happen to anyone. It is not a sign of weakness. A number of factors can increase the chance that someone will have PTSD, many of which are not under that person’s control. For example, having a very intense or long-lasting traumatic event or getting injured during the event can make it more likely that a person will develop PTSD. PTSD is also more common after certain types of trauma, like combat and sexual assault.

Personal factors, like previous traumatic exposure, age, and gender, can affect whether or not a person will develop PTSD. What happens after the traumatic event is also important. Stress can make PTSD more likely, while social support can make it less likely.

What factors affect who develops PTSD?

PTSD can happen to anyone. It is not a sign of weakness. A number of factors can increase the chance that someone will have PTSD, many of which are not under that person’s control. For example, having a very intense or long-lasting traumatic event or getting injured during the event can make it more likely that a person will develop PTSD. PTSD is also more common after certain types of trauma, like combat and sexual assault.

Personal factors, like previous traumatic exposure, age, and gender, can affect whether or not a person will develop PTSD. What happens after the traumatic event is also important. Stress can make PTSD more likely, while social support can make it less likely.

Women’s changing role in our military

A growing number of women are serving in the US military. In 2008, 11 of every 100 Veterans (or 11%) from the Afghanistan and Iraq military operations were women. These numbers are expected to keep rising. In fact, women are the fastest growing group of Veterans.

What stressors do women face in the military?

Here are some stressful things that women might have gone through while deployed:

-Combat Missions.                                                                                                                                                             –Military Sexual Trauma (MST). A number of women (and men) who have served in the military experience MST. MST includes any sexual activity where you are involved against your will, such as insulting sexual comments, unwanted sexual advances, or even sexual assault.

-Feeling Alone. In tough military missions, feeling that you are part of a group is important.

-Worrying About Family. It can be very hard for women with young children or elderly parents to be deployed for long periods of time. Service members are often given little notice. They may have to be away from home for a year or longer. Some women feel like they are “putting their lives on hold.”

Because of these stressors, many women who return from deployment have trouble moving back into civilian life. While in time most will adjust, a small number will go on to have more serious problems like PTSD.

How many women Veterans have PTSD?

Among women Veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, almost 20 of every 100 (or 20%) have been diagnosed with PTSD. We also know the rates of PTSD in women Vietnam Veterans. An important study found that about 27 of every 100 female Vietnam Veterans (or 27%) suffered from PTSD sometime during their postwar lives. To compare, in men who served in Vietnam, about 31 of every 100 (or 31%) developed PTSD in their lifetime.

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD for anyone experiencing this disorder:

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.

There are four types of symptoms of PTSD, but they may not be exactly the same for everyone. Each person experiences symptoms in their own way.

  1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms). You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback.
  2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event. You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.
  3. Having more negative beliefs and feelings. The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel guilt or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. You may feel that the world is dangerous and you can’t trust anyone. You might be numb, or find it hard to feel happy.
  4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal). You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. You might suddenly get angry or irritable, startle easily, or act in unhealthy ways (like smoking, using drugs and alcohol, or driving recklessly.

Can children have PTSD?

Children can have PTSD too. They may have symptoms described above or other symptoms depending on how old they are. As children get older, their symptoms are more like those of adults. Here are some examples of PTSD symptoms in children:

  • Children under 6 may get upset if their parents are not close by, have trouble sleeping, or act out the trauma through play.
  • Children age 7 to 11 may also act out the trauma through play, drawings, or stories. Some have nightmares or become more irritable or aggressive. They may also want to avoid school or have trouble with schoolwork or friends.
  • Children age 12 to 18 have symptoms more similar to adults: depression, anxiety, withdrawal, or reckless behavior like substance abuse or running away.

People with PTSD may also have other problems. These may include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Drinking or drug problems
  • Physical symptoms or chronic pain
  • Employment problems
  • Relationship problems, including divorce

What helps? Research shows that high levels of social support after the war or event the person has gone through were important for those women  and men Veterans including those not veterans.

Will people with PTSD get better?

“Getting better” means different things for different people. There are many different treatment options for PTSD. For many people, these treatments can get rid of symptoms altogether. Others find they have fewer symptoms or feel that their symptoms are less intense. Your symptoms don’t have to interfere with your everyday activities, work, and relationships.

What can you do to find help?

If you are having a hard time dealing with your wartime memories, there are a number of things that you can do to help yourself. There are also ways you can seek help from others.

  • Do things to feel strong and safe in other parts of your life, like exercising, eating well, and volunteering.
  • Talk to a friend who has been through the war or other hard times. A good friend who understands and cares is often the best medicine.
  • Join a support group. It can help to be a part of a group. Some groups focus on war memories. Others focus on the here and now. Still others focus on learning ways to relax.
  • Talk to a professional. It may be helpful to talk to someone who is trained and experienced in dealing with aging and PTSD. There are proven, effective treatments for PTSD. Your doctor can refer you to a therapist. You can also find information on PTSD treatment within VA at: VA PTSD Treatment Programs.
  • Tell your family and friends about LOSS and PTSD. It can be very helpful to talk to others as you try to place your long-ago wartime experiences into perspective. It may also be helpful for others to know what may be the source of your anger, nerves, sleep, or memory problems. Then they can provide more support.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most of all, try not to feel bad or embarrassed to ask for help. Asking for help when you need it is a sign of wisdom and strength.

Don’t let PTSD get in the way of your life, hurt your relationships, or cause problems at work or school.

PTSD treatment can help.

Learn what treatment is like to help you make choices about what’s best for you.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s important to seek help right away. The sooner PTSD is confronted, the easier it is to overcome. If you’re reluctant to seek help, keep in mind that PTSD is not a sign of weakness, and the only way to overcome it is to confront what happened to you and learn to accept it as a part of your past.

TYPES OF TREATMENT:

  • Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD and trauma involves carefully and gradually “exposing” yourself to thoughts, feelings, and situations that remind you of the trauma. Therapy also involves identifying upsetting thoughts about the traumatic event–particularly thoughts that are distorted and irrational—and replacing them with more balanced picture.
  • Family therapy. Since PTSD affects both you and those close to you, family therapy can be especially productive. Family therapy can help your loved ones understand what you’re going through. It can also help everyone in the family communicate better and work through relationship problems caused by PTSD symptoms.
  • Medication is sometimes prescribed to people with PTSD to relieve secondary symptoms of depression or anxiety. Antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft are the medications most commonly used for PTSD. While antidepressants may help you feel less sad, worried, or on edge, they do not treat the causes of PTSD.
  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation, such as hand taps or sounds. Eye movements and other bilateral forms of stimulation are thought to work by “unfreezing” the brain’s information processing system, which is interrupted in times of extreme stress.

When looking for a therapist for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seek out mental health professionals who specialize in the treatment of trauma and PTSD. You can start by asking your doctor if he or she can provide a referral to therapists with experience treating trauma. You may also want to ask other trauma survivors for recommendations, or call a local mental health clinic, psychiatric hospital, or counseling center.

Part II What is Multiple Sclerosis!

Disease course

Most people with MS have a relapsing-remitting disease course. They experience periods of new symptoms or relapses that develop over days or weeks and usually improve partially or completely. These relapses are followed by quiet periods of disease remission that can last months or even years.

Small increases in body temperature can temporarily worsen signs and symptoms of MS, but these aren’t considered disease relapses.

About 60 to 70 percent of people with relapsing-remitting MS eventually develop a steady progression of symptoms, with or without periods of remission, known as secondary-progressive MS.

The worsening of symptoms usually includes problems with mobility and gait. The rate of disease progression varies greatly among people with secondary-progressive MS.

Some people with MS experience a gradual onset and steady progression of signs and symptoms without any relapses. This is known as primary-progressive MS.

Causes

The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown. It’s considered an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. In the case of MS, this immune system malfunction destroys myelin (the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord).

Myelin can be compared to the insulation coating on electrical wires. When the protective myelin is damaged and nerve fiber is exposed, the messages that travel along that nerve may be slowed or blocked. The nerve may also become damaged itself.

It isn’t clear why MS develops in some people and not others. A combination of genetics and environmental factors appears to be responsible.

Risk factors

These factors may increase your risk of developing multiple sclerosis:

  • Age. MS can occur at any age, but most commonly affects people between the ages of 15 and 60.
  • Sex. Women are about twice as likely as men are to develop MS.
  • Family history. If one of your parents or siblings has had MS, you are at higher risk of developing the disease.
  • Certain infections. A variety of viruses have been linked to MS, including Epstein-Barr, the virus that causes infectious mononucleosis.
  • Race. White people, particularly those of Northern European descent, are at highest risk of developing MS. People of Asian, African or Native American descent have the lowest risk.
  • Climate. MS is far more common in countries with temperate climates, including Canada, the northern United States, New Zealand, southeastern Australia and Europe.
  • Certain autoimmune diseases. You have a slightly higher risk of developing MS if you have thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Smoking. Smokers who experience an initial event of symptoms that may signal MS are more likely than nonsmokers to develop a second event that confirms relapsing-remitting MS.

Complications

People with multiple sclerosis also may develop:

  • Muscle stiffness or spasms
  • Paralysis, typically in the legs
  • Problems with bladder, bowel or sexual function
  • Mental changes, such as forgetfulness or mood swings
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy

Rx:

QUOTE FOR THE WEEKEND:

“The way you live, what you eat and drink, and how you treat your body can affect your memory just as much as your physical health and well-being.”

Harvard Health Publishing

HOW TO KEEP YOUR MEMORY SHARP WITH AGE.

brain4

Ways to keep your brain sharp as a tack despite the brain shrinking as we grow older!

– Stay active physically and mentally!

Get plenty of aerobic exercise, at least 20 minutes every other day,” said Professor Klemm who is the author the book Memory Power 101.

People who stay physically fit tend to stay mentally sharp and hold their cognitive abilities well into their seventies and eighties. A 2012 study of 691 seniors in the journal Neurology found that seniors who reported high levels of physical activity at age 70 had less brain shrinkage at age 73 than seniors who reported less physical activity. Exercise may decrease memory loss by improving blood flow to the brain.

– Brain Exercise

Train your attentiveness and focus. The most common mental problem with aging is distractibility, which inevitably interferes with memory. An example is when you open the refrigerator door and suddenly realize you forgot what you went to the fridge for,” said Klemm. He recommends challenging your brain with games like chess or Sudoku. Dr. Gandy recommends puzzles and memory training.

– Learn a New Skill

Some research shows that learning a new language or learning to play a musical instrument may help prevent memory loss and improve cognitive abilities. A 2011 study published in the journal Neuropsychology found that people who had instrumental musical training retained their memory and had less cognitive decline with age. The study included 70 seniors between age 60 and 83. The study found that the more years of musical training a person had, the better their cognitive performance was with age.

– Be More Sociable

Klemm and Gandy agree that social engagement is important in preventing memory loss. “Social engagement, along with physical and mental stimulation, all release substances in the brain that strengthen nerve connections called synapses,” said Gandy. A 2012 study published in the journal Neuropsychology followed 952 seniors for 12 years to see if social engagement protected seniors from memory loss and decline in communication skills. They concluded that being socially active reduced these declines and that seniors who showed declines tended to become less socially engaged.

– Get Your Antioxidants

Composition of human brain model and world map

Composition of human brain model and world map

Antioxidant vitamins may benefit memory by blocking free radicals that contribute to cell aging. Over the years, some large studies have found that antioxidant vitamins C and E may protect against cognitive decline. Gandy said that vitamins could help but cautions that they only help in cases of vitamin deficiency. You can also get plenty of antioxidants naturally in your diet. “They’re in any dark-colored fruit, berry, or vegetable. Also, take vitamin D3 and resveratrol pills,” advised Klemm.

–  Learn to Meditate

Stress and anxiety may decrease memory and cognitive ability, so take steps to reduce these negatives. “Take up meditation, yoga, or another type of mind-body exercise that reduces stress,” said Klemm. A 2010 study in the journal Consciousness and Cognition found that just four days of meditation training could significantly reduce anxiety and improve memory and cognition. In the study, 24 volunteers took meditation training and 25 listened to a recorded book. Both groups had improved mood, but the meditation group also had better memory, less stress, and clearer thinking.

What is pica?

Pica is a compulsive eating disorder that affects 10% to 30% of young children, ages 1 to 2. It is the act of eating nonfood items. Dirt, clay, and flaking paint are the most common. Less common items include glue, hair, cigarette ashes, and feces. It is most common in children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as autism. On rare occasions, pregnant women crave strange, nonfood items. For these women, pica often involves eating dirt and may be related to an iron and zinc deficiency.

Signs and Symptoms of PICA:

Pica symptoms are related to the nonfood item he or she has eaten. They include:

  • Stomach upset
  • Stomach pain
  • Blood in the stool (which may be a sign of an ulcer that developed from eating nonfood items)
  • Bowel problems (such as constipation or diarrhea)

These symptoms are the result of the toxic, poisonous, and bacterial content of the nonfood items. Repeatedly eating nonfood items over a period of time can cause lead poisoning, an intestinal blockage or tear (from eating hard objects, such as rocks), injuries to teeth, and infections (from organisms and parasites that get inside the body and cause disease).

How is pica diagnosed?

Many typical children chew on things such as their nails and ice, or mouth their toys and hair. A person diagnosed with pica repeatedly eats nonfood items, even if they make him or her sick.

  • Your doctor will look at your child’s physical symptoms (stomach upset, bowel problems).
  • If your child is in a high-risk group for pica (intellectual and developmental disabilities), your doctor may ask if you have seen your child eating nonfood items and for how long.
  • If the behavior has occurred for a month or more, your doctor may diagnose it as pica.
  • Your doctor may order a blood test to check your child’s iron and zinc levels. Not having enough of these vitamins is considered a trigger for eating dirt and clay in some cases.

Pica treatment

Treatment will address several areas. Your doctor will address your child’s illness from having eaten nonfood items. For example, your doctor will treat your child’s constipation, diarrhea, ulcer, intestinal tear, infection, or any combination of illnesses. If your doctor finds your child doesn’t have enough iron or zinc, he or she will address that with a vitamin supplement and dietary recommendations.

Another focus of treatment will address the underlying cause of your child’s pica diagnosis. Your doctor will discuss your child’s home environment, educate you as a parent, and refer your child to a behavioral or mental health specialist.

Can pica be prevented or avoided?

Pica cannot be prevented. Proper nutrition may help some children. If your child has been diagnosed with pica, you can reduce his or her risk of eating nonfood items by keeping those items out of reach in your home. Monitor your child’s outside play.

Living with pica

Most children outgrow pica as they get older. However, high-risk populations, such as children and adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, may need continued monitoring of their behavior and environment.