The Link Between Alcohol and Cardio Damage

Not for nothing is it known as the Demon Alcohol. Its effects seem so lovely at first, your wit increases ten fold, your cares melt away, you’re instantly sharper of thought, your inhibitions vanish, you become spontaneous, the life of the party. Then, within hours, the low comes. Your stomach is sick, your head is ringing, the alcoholic bile sours your mouth. The highs of alcohol can be glorious, but the after effects can be rather unpleasant, and not only in the short term. Repeated use of alcohol can have long lasting effects on several organs of the body, including the heart. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is one of the many diseases caused by alcohol abuse. Here is some information on the condition and its health implications.

Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy
Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a heart disease which thins and weakens the heart muscle, interfering with its ability to pump blood. This disrupts the major functions of the body, which can lead to heart failure and other health problems.

The condition is most common in men between the ages of 35 and 50. People with the disease usually have a five to 15-year history of heavy drinking, which is defined as alcohol consumption exceeding daily limits. In men, that means more than four drinks a day, or more than 14 drinks per week, while in women heavy drinking means more than three alcoholic beverages per day or more than seven drinks per week. While cardiomyopathy is not always symptomatic, when symptoms do occur, breakdown they commonly include shortness of breath, swelling of legs and feet, and shortness go breath.

Causes
The toxicity of alcohol damages the heart muscle, which makes it hard for the heart to pump blood. The heart begins to expand to hold the extra blood, in time becoming thinned and enlarged. Eventually, the strain causes the blood vessels and heart break down and cease to function properly.

Treatment
The first step to treating cardiomyopathy is to stop drinking completely. A doctor may be able to assist with withdrawal symptoms. He or she may suggest that you begin a low salt diet, take diuretics to help increase the removal of water and salt from your body, and limit for intake of fluid to ease pressure on the heart caused by fluid retention. Your doctor may prescribe ACE inhibitors or beta blockers to reduce blood pressure. If the heart is damaged severely, the doctor may suggest a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator to help it pump.

Long Term Outlook
The long term outlook for people suffering from alcoholic cardiomyopathy is dependent on how long alcohol was abused, and the severity of the abuse. These are the factors that will determine the extent of damage. The lesser the damage, the greater the chance of complete recovery. If the damage is irreversible, it can be hard for the heart and body to recover.

If the disease is caught in early stages, however, the condition is treatable and, in some cases the damage can be reversed. The possibility of recovery is largely dependent on the individual’s willingness to avoid alcohol and to adhere closely to the plan of treatment.

If you or someone you know is abusing alcohol, we urge you to seek help. The effects of alcohol can be detrimental and dangerous.

Choose Your Pain Relief Carefully

Pain. It can be overwhelming, and relief needs to be immediate. When discomfort gets hard to tolerate, most of us grab the first thing on the shelf of the medicine cabinet without thinking and herein lies the problem. Pain relievers are drugs, and like all other drugs, they need to be considered carefully before we take them. According to experts, many of the pains relievers in our medicine cabinets may be doing more harm than good. Here are what some of them are saying about NSAIDs and why other options should be on hand before pain hits.

Do Pain Relievers Put Us At Risk?
NSAIDS or Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs have been coming under fire lately for having the potential for cardiac risk. These drugs are commonly taken for relief of a variety of pain types, including headaches, muscle, Ibuprofen and joint aches. Examples include over the counter agents, such as Advil, Ibuprofen, alive, and Naproxen, while prescription varieties include Celecoxib and Celebrex. However, while former studies showed increased risk of heart attack, more recent ones reveal that the danger is more commonly associated with people who take the drugs regularly.

Studies reveal a two to fourfold increase in the risk of myocardial infractions for habitual NSAID users. That means that 25 to 50 patients would need to take NSAIDs for a whole year to cause one event of a stroke or heart attacks. However, because the use of the drugs is so popular, and many of the users are seniors who are already at risk for heart disease there is a cause for concern.

Highest Risk
The highest risk seems to come from taking over 750 mg of Naproxen or 1200 mg of Ibuprofen. Does this size is taken regularly carry a risk for GI bleeds, kidney injury, and stomach ulcers, in addition to cardiac risk.

vine vera banner presents Choose Your Pain Relief Carefully

Thing to Keep In Mind
If you are young and in good health, your chances of cardiovascular complications caused by NSAIDs are small.

If you are currently at risk for heart disease, NSAIDs can increase the risk.

If you need to take NSAIDs on a regular basis, you should discuss the risks and possible alternatives with a health professional.

NSAID Alternatives
Because there is no one size fits all answer to pain relief, it is probably best to create a “Pain Plan” with your doctor or pharmacist. Considering the recent efforts to cut down on the use of opioids and increase the use of NSAIDs for arthritis treatment, careful decision making needs to go into picking the right pain relief.

While Tylenol, which is not a NSAID, is often a good pain relieving option, there are also no medication relief alternatives, such as the use of heat or ice, depending on the conditions. Although it is still safe for many patients to take NSAIDs, it is important to be aware of recommended dosages and the frequency of taking them. Experts recommend that no medication remedies, such as heat, massage, stretching, ice, and other forms of physical therapies be kept in consideration until more information is known.

Are you trading in your NSAIDs for other options? Let us know if you are and what they are.

Healthy food

Popular Health Food Myths

Eating pop rocks with soda can make you explode. This is perhaps the most popular and most bizarre food myths of all time. Although some may argue that the two together may be a lethal combination, it is not because of its likelihood to cause human combustion. While the fate of Mikey of Life Cereal fame may be unknown, it is safe to say he did not suffer death by Poprock. With the rate at which information about food changes , it is often hard to determine which facts from fiction. Here are some of the most commonly believed food myths that may seem all too easy to believe.

Low Fat Food is Better for You
Look at food labels to determine what kinds of fats are in foods before reaching for the low fat version. Seattle based dietitian Andy Bellatti says, “A good intake of healthful fats is beneficial for cardiovascular health. Prioritize mono saturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Many low fat diets are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates which are increasingly becoming linked to increased heart disease.” Low fat food are often low in good fats, which are necessary to cholesterol management and absorption of nutrients and also contain high levels of sugar and sodium to compensate for the blandness of the taste quality.

Dairy Is Best For Healthy Bones
According to Bellatti, too many people confuse dairy with calcium. “Dairy contains calcium, but so do dark-leafy greens. Milk is fortified with vitamin D, just like all milk alternatives. Additionally, bone health goes beyond calcium and vitamin D.” Vitamin K is important for bone health and leafy green have it while dairy products do not. Magnesium, also absent from dairy, is important for bone health as well.

Assorted dairy

If you’re concerned about the health of your bones, you’re best bet is to make sure you get enough calcium in your diet and, as the Harvard School of Public Health points out, “milk isn’t the only, or even best source of calcium.” Collard greens, kale and bok choy may be considerably better sources of both calcium and vitamin D.

Drink 8 Glasses of Water per Day
Boston based nutritionist Alannah DiBona says there is no given rule for how much water a person needs in a day. “Water’s been touted as the cure for all sins, and in some ways, it’s true – proper hydration is necessary for just about anything body and mind-related. However sixty- four ounces per day isn’t always going to be the right number for you.” Instead, try to determine your water intake by dividing your body weight in half and trying to drink that number in ounces of water daily.

Dibona also urges us to “Remember that water is available to you through all liquids, fruits, vegetables, and that the mark of proper hydration is a very light yellow-colored urine.”

Eating Eggs Raises Cholesterol
According to DiBona, “More often than not, a person diagnosed with high cholesterol will go out of his or her way to avoid eggs, which is really unnecessary. The body’s cholesterol levels are influenced by certain saturated and trans fats; eggs contain very little saturated fat and absolutely no trans fat. Depriving yourself of an egg means foregoing 13 naturally occurring vitamins and minerals and a really delicious breakfast item.”

Poached egg

High Sodium Foods Taste Salty
While there is no doubt that management of salt and sodium intake are important, especially for those with diabetes and hypertension, you should know that salty taste is not necessarily characteristic of high sodium foods. Belatti explains, “While surface salt is noticeable, stealth sodium, added during processing, is harder to taste. This is why many people don’t realize that a Dunkin’ Donuts corn muffin contains as much sodium, as 9 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.” He stresses the importance of looking up nutrition information to check the sodium content of foods at your favorite restaurants and eateries.

What other food myths do you want to debunk? Let us know!

Heart-healthy foods

Foods That Boost Your Cardiovascular Health

When we use the term “hungry heart,” we are usually not speaking in the literal, scientific sense. The Hebrew bible associated all feelings with the heart, hunger and thirst included and quoted Abraham as saying we shall eat to “sustain our hearts.” However, today we tend to more often associate these signals with the mind and brain. However, is the whole body concept so far-fetched? After all, if our heart does fuel our body, and our stomach does fuel our heart, then maybe the heart can be hungry. And if the heart is hungry, what should we feed it?

The Food-Heart Connection
According to Julie Zumpano, RD, LD, and dietitian for the Preventive Cardiology and Nutrition Program at Cleveland Clinic says, “You can definitely reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by eating certain foods every day. Try to eat foods that are in their natural form, as they come from the ground.” Here are some suggestions for a heart-healthy diet.

Fish
Fish are packed with omega-3’s to support your heart. Eating fish with a high omega-3 content, such as salmon and mackerel can help prevent the formation of blood clots, and help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Salmon

Almonds
A handful of almonds contains a huge load of nutrients! Not only do these nuts have protein, magnesium, and fiber, but they are also high in vitamin E, biotin, monosaturated fats and antioxidants to protect against oxidative stress. They have also been shown to help reduce risk of heart disease and lower bad cholesterol levels.

Beans
Beans, beans, good for your heart! Beans are rich in soluble fiber and help decrease blood pressure and reduce inflammation. They are also full of phytochemicals that reduce oxidative stress, a known contributor to heart disease.

Pomegranates
These lovely seeded fruits have incredible anti-inflammatory properties to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and blood disease. They also contain punicic acid, a fatty acid proven to combat risk factors associated with heart disease.

Pomegranates

Whole Grains
If you want to improve heart health, swap out that white bread for whole wheat. Web MD cites research showing that the consumption of just 25 grams of whole grains per day can reduce heart disease by 15%.” A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer,” says the website.

Red Wine
Don’t get too excited. Moderation is the key. Scientist suggest that one glass of red per day can raise HDL, or good cholesterol, which prevents blood clots and inflammation that can contribute to a stroke or heart attack. However, they also warn against too much of the good stuff, which may have a detrimental effect on mental and physical health.

Dark Chocolate
Bring on the dark chocolate to help protect your cardiovascular system. This wonderful treat contains flavanols. an antioxidant which has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase blood flow to the heart, and decrease the likelihood of blood clot formation.

Dark chocolate

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, folic acid. and beta carotene, but it’s lycopene that really gives these veggies their heart healthy kick. Lycopene reduces risk for heart disease and reduces blood pressure, inflammation, and stroke which make these veggies a great pick for a snack or salad topper.

What do you feed your heart to keep it healthy? Let us know! We love to hear it!

Woman sleeping in a mosquito net

Repelling Disease Carrying Bugs

When we were little, our first Barbies were often international travelers.  We would dress her smartly in a two-piece suit with just the right amount of sexy and put her in some killer pumps, accessorize her with suitcase and briefcase and off she would go to catch her international flight.  In many scenarios, Barbie would jet set to some tropical location where she would be involved in Bond-esque scenarios, all of which she would able to navigate her way into and out of smoothly, emerging with Ken on her arm and her suit as fresh and pristine as it had been before she left. We really should have warned her about the bugs!!

Unfortunately, no matter how romantic and appealing traveling to other countries may seem, it is not without its dangers,  with insect carrying bugs,  namely mosquitoes and ticks, at the top of the list.  But, if you are well informed and well prepared, about how these  critters operate, you can greatly lower your chances of being bitten.

The first thing you should do is to try and avoid regions that are known to be hot spots for disease transmission.  Tropical regions are most commonly cited,  but be sure to check the CDC Travelers Health Website for updates on regional outbreaks.  But assuming you can’t avoid the mosquitoes doesn’t mean you can’t outsmart them.  Find out when  peak biting times are and try to stay inside during these hours and avoid vegetated areas where ticks and chiggers can be found.

Sorry, fashionistas, but if you’re planning on heading to the tropics you may not want to plan on packing those sleeveless numbers.  As alluring as the thought of bearing it all on a tropical island may be,  it may not be the most advisable. The CDC recommends that you minimize the areas of exposed skin by wearing long sleeves, pants, boots and hats and make sure you tuck ’em in.  Shirts in pants, pants in socks, closed shoes.  Just remember:  Confidence makes you beautiful!! Also, while your dressing, it may be a good idea to spritz your duds with permethrin repellents for extra protection.  This will last through many washes.

Bed nets.  Now this one, we quite like.  Haven’t you often thought them to resemble sexy little canopies.  Make sure they reach the floor of are tucked under mattresses to seal the buggers out.  They should be pretreated with a pyrethroid insecticide for best results.  Pretreated nets are available for purchase and can last for several months if they are not washed.

Regrettably, when it comes to using repellents, there are environmental issues to consider.  Most of what is toxic to insects is, consequently, harmful to the environment.  However there are a few EPA registered products that have been proven to reduce bug bites.  DEET, picardin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD, ad IR3535 are all recommended.  It should be noted that the first two are known as “conventional repellents” and OLE PMD and IR3535 are known as “biopesticide repellents”, derived from natural materials.

So, if an international flight is on your calendar, do not be deterred!  Just think of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Africa.  They did noble work and managed to keep free of disease and looked great doing it ! If they can do it, so can you!