Serious Eye Condition Being Misdiagnosed?

Gabrielle deGroot Redford,wrote for the AATP online newsletter that a new JAMA Ophthalmology study found that one in every four cases of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) was missed by trained eye care professionals, a finding that could have serious implications for the growing population of older adults most at risk of developing the sight-robbing disease.

Researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham reexamined 644 patients (average age 69) who had undergone a dilated eye exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist and discovered that fully 25 percent of those whose eyes had been deemed to be normal actually showed signs of AMD, the leading cause of irreversible vision loss for Americans age 50 and older in the U.S.

“As the baby boomer population comes into the years when age-related macular degenerationbecomes more prevalent, we need to make sure that patients are properly diagnosed,” says lead study author David Neely, M.D., of the University of Alabama, Birmingham. “Fortunately in our study, no cases of the advanced form of the disease were missed.”

AMD affects 14 million Americans and is characterized by a loss of central vision, making everyday activities like reading, driving and watching television difficult. As the population ages, the number of people with the disease is expected to increase significantly.

While there is no cure, researchers have discovered ways to slow the progression of AMD through nutritional supplementation and, in more severe cases, with injectable anti-VEGF medications that shrink the abnormal blood vessels that are a hallmark of the advanced stages of the disease. Read more

Our gut talks and sometimes argues with our brain

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The Fruit You Need to Be Eating More Of

Shelley Emling, wrote for the  AARP Health Newsletter that we already knew avocados are good for us. After all, they’re packed with protein (the good-quality kind), potassium and antioxidants. But we just didn’t know how good they are for us. Until now.

An April 2017 review of 129 previously published studies related to avocados found that eating the fruit — and eating it often — could ward off metabolic syndrome. Ominously nicknamed the “new silent killer,” metabolic syndrome is the label applied to a deadly combination of three or more risk factors that can lead to stroke, diabetes and heart disease. These risk factors include abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels and high blood pressure.

(And yes, you might be tempted to call an avocado a veggie. But technically, it’s a fruit — and more specifically, a single-seeded berry.)

Avocados and their healthy fats appear to have the most dramatic impact on cholesterol levels, which have a positive effect on obesity rates, heart health and blood pressure. But they can help fight off almost every other aspect of metabolic syndrome, as well. And metabolic syndrome is not a condition to take lightly, as it affects 40 percent of Americans 40 and older.

If that weren’t enough, avocados also have been shown to stave off belly fat, the worst kind of fat to carry, and boost metabolism.

“This is just yet another study to show that avocados truly deserve superfood status,” Healthmagazine’s contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass told Time magazine. Sass was not one of the researchers involved in the review but agrees that it includes “an impressive range of studies.”

Sass also pointed out that avocados fill you up — which means it’s hard to eat too much of this food that’s high in healthy fat. If anything, people who eat a lot of avocados generally weigh less than those who don’t.

“This is yet another example of how not all calories are created equal,” Sass told Time.

The new review of studies, conducted by Iranian researchers, was published in the journal Phytotherapy Research.

Fortunately, American consumption of avocados has skyrocketed in the past four decades, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture released in January 2017. Indeed, thanks in part to the avocado’s reputation as a healthy fat, consumption of avocados jumped 1,342 percent between 1970 and 2014.

So what are you waiting for? Jump on the bandwagon and whip up some guacamole. For something a bit different, check out AARP’s recipe for a bacon-lettuce-avocado-tomato sandwichor this recipe for avocados stuffed with crab-mango salad.

How To Control High Blood Pressure Without Medication

Irshad Alam, (romanberes12@gmail.com),  an experienced freelance writer shared with Healthy Lombard that blood pressure or hypertension can be extremely dangerous. The fact that it has no obvious symptoms makes it of a life-threatening proportion. So, it makes sense to consult the doctor on a regular basis and consume the right medication to get the numbers down. In fact, you can control your blood pressure without being on medication by following a healthy lifestyle. Making changes to the lifestyle can help you either go medication-free or at least delay the need for the same. After all, the way we lead our lives has a huge role to play in hypertension.

You can control high blood pressure without medication by following these recommended steps –

1#   Lose weight

There is a strong connection between weight and hypertension and both rise in proportion to each other. So, your blood pressure will increase if the weight goes up gradually. The focus thus should be on losing those extra pounds by making changes to the lifestyle. Not doing the same might expose you to a greater risk of the disease. Maintaining a healthy waistline will in turn maintain your blood pressure successfully.

2#   Regular exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity can help you lower the blood pressure to a manageable level. You can walk, jog, swim or cycle daily for at least 30 minutes and keep hypertension in check. Even strength training provides benefits you should not miss.

3#   Healthy diet

What we eat has a huge bearing on the blood pressure levels in the body. The focus thus should be on eating a healthy diet – a diet that comprises of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Keep a blood pressure checker by your side so that you know the levels of blood pressure in a gradual manner.     Read more

Ibuprofen (and Other NSAIDs) and Heart Attack Risk

 Korin Miller in SELF wrote that you probably heard recently that new research has linked non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with an increased risk of a heart attack. Common over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve), and people promptly freaked out over the news. But before you do the same, know this: This isn’t as bad as it sounds.

First, some basics on the research. The meta-analysis, which was published in the BMJ, studied data from 446,763 people, including more than 61,000 who had heart attacks. Researchers looked at study participants’ heart health and how often they took NSAIDs, and determined that taking any dose of NSAIDs for a week, month, or more than a month was associated with an increased risk of having a heart attack. Risks ranged from 20 to 50 percent compared to people who didn’t take NSAIDs, and the risk level increased as quickly as one week into the use of any NSAID.

But here’s a very important point: The study was observational and not causational, meaning this doesn’t definitively say ibuprofen causes heart attacks.

Instead, it means the scientists simply observed that people who took NSAIDs had a higher risk of heart attacks. They found an association, not causation-based proof that NSAIDs are bad news for your heart.

Experts say you shouldn’t chuck the ibuprofen sitting in your bathroom cabinet over this. “People take these drugs because they’re sick, and we know that when people have health issues, they’re more likely to have cardiac problems arise,” Richard Wright, M.D., a cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF. “It’s the same thing as the idea that if someone goes to the emergency room, they’re more likely to die. It’s not because the ER is killing them—they go to the ER because they’re sick.”

This issue is a lot more complicated than simply pitting the heart attack risk for people who regularly take NSAIDs versus that of the general population. In fact, it’s hard to even pinpoint an exact number for the general population’s risk of heart attacks, since it’s based on factors like age and lifestyle, which vary wildly between people.

With that said, a good estimate for American adults’ heart attack risk is about five in 1,000 for year, Wright says. “Even if NSAIDs raise that risk by 50 percent, which is dubious at best, the absolute increase in risk for those taking such drugs is perhaps two or three per thousand people per year,” he said. “Most of my patients will gladly accept this slight risk, if taking these drugs relieve their aches and pains and allow them to function.”

Also worth noting: This association between NSAIDs and heart health isn’t new at all.

Medhat Mikhael, M.D., a pain management specialist and medical director of the non-operative program at the Center for Spine Health at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SELF that the news isn’t surprising to members of the medical community. He points out that in 2005, the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) warned that taking NSAIDs increased a person’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The FDA particularly flagged rofecoxib, a type of NSAID called a COX-2 inhibitor (it was removed from shelves in 2004), but noted that additional research found a link between all NSAIDs and heart attack risk.

The FDA also noted in a 2015 follow-up warning that the risk is greatest for people who already have heart disease, although those who don’t have heart disease may also be at risk. “Those serious side effects can occur as early as the first few weeks of using an NSAID, and the risk might rise the longer people take NSAIDs,” the FDA said in its warning.

The risk is nowhere near large enough for doctors to avoid recommending NSAIDs for most patients.

“If a normal young person threw out their back and their doctor prescribed NSAIDs for two weeks, am I concerned that this is going to cause a heart attack? Absolutely not,” Mikhael says. However, he stresses that doctors don’t recommend taking NSAIDs for long periods of time anyway. “You can use it one day when you have a flare-up, but I don’t want you to be on it for a long time on a daily basis,” he says. “Long-term use can have side effects.”

Those include the potential for a gastric ulcer and kidney disease, he says—both more likely reasons he would recommend against long-term NSAID use than potential heart issues, he notes.

Some people are interpreting the findings as a reason to switch to acetaminophen (aka Tylenol), but Mikhael says that’s not necessarily the right move. While it may not carry the same risks, it’s not completely risk-free, he says, noting that long-term use of acetaminophen can also have a toxic effect on a person’s liver.

There are obvious benefits to taking NSAIDs, like the fact that they can help with pain relief. It’s just about using good judgment as to whether it’s the right choice for you.

If you have any underlying heart conditions, you should absolutely talk to your doctor before taking any sort of pain reliever or other medicine, just to be safe. Otherwise? “If you have a need to take NSAIDs, take them,” Wright says. “But don’t take them out of habit. After your strep throat is over, you don’t keep taking penicillin—it’s the same thing with NSAIDs and pain.”

Mikhael agrees. “A lot of patients think that over-the-counter medication like Aleve and ibuprofen are absolutely safe to take and then they take it daily in a big amount,” he says. “Over-the-counter medications can be harmful when you take too much for too long a time.”

If you feel that you need to take NSAIDs for longer than a few days, Mikhael recommends checking in with your doctor to be safe. “Do not take it for granted that over-the-counter medication is safe simply because it’s over-the-counter,” he says. That said, if you need to take an ibuprofen for a few days for a random ache and don’t have an underlying heart condition, experts say you should be just fine to do so.

5 Non-Stimulant Fat Burners for People Sensitive to Caffeine

Alex Eriksson   at alex@anabolichealth.com asks, “Do you want to lose fat but maintain muscle mass?” Most people do! One way to support your fat loss goals is to use fat burner supplements along with regular exercise and a proper diet.

The problem with many popular fat burner supplements today is that they contain stimulants that induce changes in your adrenalin release and heart rate. These stimulant-based fat burners also directly affect the nervous system and raise blood pressure. People who are sensitive to caffeine are thus not able to use these supplements for fat loss.

In this light, which supplements can be safely used by caffeine-sensitive people wanting to lose body fat?

 

Why Some People Don’t Do Well with Stimulants

It has something to do with genetics. The COMT gene is one of the many genes that affect the way stimulants work in the body.

Caffeine increases the production and release of substances called catecholamines. High concentrations of catecholamines in the blood may cause damage in the heart muscle and eventually lead to higher risks of heart attacks.

Catechol-0-Methyl Transferase (COMT) breaks down the catecholamines released through caffeine ingestion. Now, caffeine-sensitive individuals often have COMT genes that aren’t that active. These slow-acting genes are unable to process excess catecholamine activity, leading to higher risks of muscular heart damage and increased heart attack risk. This explains why caffeine-sensitive people often experience rapid heartbeat after ingesting just a small amount of caffeine.

 

Going for Non-Stimulant Fat Burners

People who are sensitive to caffeine should avoid taking stimulant fat burners for the important reason – stimulant fat burners contain caffeine or stimulants such as ephedrine which increases risks of heart attacks and other heart conditions such as arrhythmia.

So, take your hard work in losing body fat up a notch by using non-stimulant fat burners to speed things up in a safer way. Non-stimulant fat burners utilize healthier substances instead of stimulants to remove excess fat in the body.

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Why you need to check your blood pressure

Alison Sage, D.O. in  Healthy Driven Life, Healthy Driven Hearts shared that Heart attack. Stroke. Vision loss. Sexual dysfunction are some of the problems you face if your blood pressure gets too high.It’s important to note that high blood pressure comes without symptoms. You don’t feel a thing. Meanwhile, your arteries are being damaged.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is very common. The American Heart Association reports one out of three Americans older than 20 have high blood pressure. That’s 85 million people.

So how do you know if you have high blood pressure? Have your doctor measure it. If it’s normal, have it checked again in a year or two. If it’s high, your doctor may want you to try measuring it at home to get a bigger picture of the pressure over time.

You can purchase a blood pressure monitor at your local pharmacy or online. Look for one with a cuff that fits around your arm. This Consumer Reports article lays out some features to look for in a home blood pressure monitor.

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Cardiac rehab key to recovery and new lifestyle

Jana Tindall, RN and Lisa Reid, MS from Healthy Driven Hearts shared that cardiopulmonary rehabilitation (cardiac rehab) is an essential part of your continued care following a heart attack, heart failure or a heart procedure, such as angioplasty and stent, heart surgery or transplant.

Your doctor will likely recommend you make some changes in your life, and cardiac rehab is key to helping you implement these lifestyle changes and restore your heart health. In fact, cardiac rehab decreases the risk of a future heart event by stabilizing, slowing or even reversing the progression of cardiovascular disease.

The process starts when you are in the hospital, and continues on an outpatient basis with the goal of continuing and/or integrating fitness and wellness into your daily life.

The program consists of three phases and is led by registered nurses, exercise physiologists and respiratory therapists:

    • Phase 1 is focused on educating you in the hospital. You are given information regarding your specific heart condition, activity/home walking program, nutrition, medications, risk factor and lifestyle changes, and emergency planning.

 

    • Phase 2 begins 3-4 weeks following your hospitalization. You receive an individualized treatment plan and work toward personalized goals with the cardiac rehab team. The team works closely with you as you progress through the program. They monitor your heart rate and blood pressure to evaluate for possible concerns as well as improvements. You attend an exercise program in cardiac rehab 3 times per week for 12 weeks. Each 60-minute session consists of cardiovascular exercise, strength training and stretching. There is also an educational component that consists of topics such as stress management, nutrition, risk factor management and overall cardiac education.

 

    • Phase 3 is a non-monitored, self-directed exercise program offered to you after you complete phase 2. It is important to continue to exercise on your own and make fitness a regular habit. This program is open to anyone who has participated in a cardiac rehab program or has a doctor referral.

 

Cardiac rehab doesn’t change the past, but it can improve your heart’s future. Your participation and completion of the program will give you the confidence to live well with heart disease.

If you or someone you know may be eligible for cardiac rehab, speak to your doctor and obtain an order for cardiac rehab. You will need to verify your insurance coverage prior to beginning cardiac rehab.

Don’t Let Sunburn Ruin Your Summer Months

With the summer months heating up, you may be spending more time out in the sun. Whether you’re off to a beach getaway or just enjoying the outdoors, it’s easy to forget the importance of sun protection. In the event of sunburn, follow these tips from Men’s Healthfor some quick relief:

Stay Hydrated
Hydrating from within will be key to speeding the healing, which should take about a week. “If the skin barrier is disrupted, your skin may not be maintaining hydration as well as it would otherwise,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC.

Rehydrate
Your skin needs a topical fix to rehydrate, and aloe is the perfect sunburn-healer. You’ll want to avoid moisturizers that contain petroleum, benzocaine or lidocaine, as petroleum products trap the heat in your skin (ouch) and the other two no-no ingredients can be irritants according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If you’re truly uncomfortable, an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream can help calm the burn and fight inflammation and itching.

Remember, using sunscreen with at least 30 SPF to begin with can help you avoid sunburn this summer. If you happen to experience sunburn, you can follow these tips to avoid having your bad sunburn ruin a great summer vacation.

The benefits of a healthy weight

The May edition of the Shaklee newsletter hared that making a commitment to achieve a healthy weight is one of the best health decisions you can make. Studies have shown health benefits start to occur at about a 5 percent reduction of initial body weight.1 For someone starting at 200 pounds, that means benefits could be seen with losing just 10 pounds! So let’s look at some specific benefits achievable with weight loss as documented in research publications:

HEART: Research has shown that a 5 to 10 percent loss of body weight can result in meaningful reductions in heart disease risk. One study of overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes found this amount of weight loss could lower blood pressure by as much as 5 mm Hg (systolic and diastolic). Blood lipids also improved along with a five-point increase in HDL cholesterol levels and a drop in triglycerides of as much as 40 mg/dL.2

BLOOD SUGAR: Many measures of blood sugar control improve with weight loss. In the same study just mentioned, a measurement of long-term blood sugar control called hemoglobin A1C may drop as much as a half point (normal is under 6.5).2 Insulin resistance also improves with modest weight loss in people without diabetes.2

INFLAMMATION: Fat cells produce inflammatory molecules called cytokines, and a 10 percent drop in body fat reduces levels of these substances. Losing those extra pounds has wide-ranging effects throughout your body as inflammation is associated with many chronic diseases.3

JOINTS: Every pound of weight lost reduces the stress on your knees by four times. So lose 10 pounds and take 40 pounds of stress off your knees, hips, and ankle joints.

How to get there

Weight loss in the 5-10% range is often achieved through changes to the diet, increased physical activity, and behavioral changes such as learning to self-monitor and how to manage situations that could result in poor diet & lifestyle choices. For this approach, you want a modest calorie restriction, one that will support about 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week. For many women, that means eating about 1200-1500 calories a day; for men, about 1500-1800 calories per day. The use of meal replacements (shakes or bars) has been shown to help improve weight loss outcomes.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: The basic activity recommendation is at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity most days, and resistance exercise twice a week. “Moderate intensity” for many people means brisk walking or something comparable; you should be able to talk but not sing during the activity. Check with your doctor if you have any reasons to be concerned about physical activity.

DIET: A higher protein intake plus exercise will help maintain muscle as you lose body fat; retaining muscle keeps your metabolism higher, in addition to making you fitter. Typically, some muscle is lost when people restrict calories to lose weight. However, in a recent study that combined meal replacements with aerobic and resistance exercise, the subjects actually gained muscle while losing weight.4

Key takeaways for you
  • Keep in mind you are doing more than changing your appearance—you are building your health! And studies suggest that for as long as people maintain most of their weight loss,the benefits last too.5
  • Think in terms of permanent change, not quick fix. Take your time, and make changes you think you will be able to stick with.
  • Many people find it helpful to track their behaviors and results. Take pictures when you start. Note how your clothes fit. Weigh in about once a week. Log your “winning streaks” of days in a row you get your brisk walk or gym visit in. Your new habits will dictate who you become.