Monday, July 30, 2012

Food and Heart Disease - Foods That Could Jeopardize Your Health

Heart disease is the greatest cause of fatalities in the United States, and it is thought that currently as many as 37% of all Americans have at least two of the risk factors for heart attack. These would be high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes to name the most common ones, and they are mostly interrelated and mostly attributed to poor diet practices. So these are just five of the foods that you should avoid as much as possible.
1. Soft drinks. This is one of the five we cite here that is difficult to justify, even in moderation. Throw 10 tsp. of sugar into your system every time you drink a regular soda, and then imagine drinking a few every day. A study followed young adults over a 20-year period and found that high consumption of sugary drinks had an association with high ldl cholesterol, hypertension and elevated levels of triglycerides, all known causes of heart disease. Diet soda yields the same nutritional benefits: zero.
2. Fish that is fried. We have written about the health benefits of fish, and it is well-known to reduce the risk of heart disease. But it all depends on how it is prepared if you will truly reap those benefits. Put it in the deep fryer and all those health benefits go by the wayside. When tests were conducted comparing fried fish to baked or broiled, the results showed a 50% greater risk of heart disease with the deep fried fish. So plan to eat fish at least twice a week, and stay away from deep fried and broil, steam, bake or sauté your fish in a small amount of olive oil for the best health results.
3. Any meat that is processed. This is another food that shouldn't be consumed, especially with so many more healthy options available. Even compared to red meats they had a 42% higher heart attack risk than red meat. They foods such as salami, bologna, sausages and other deli meats contain fat, salt, nitrates, cholesterol and preservatives. Better options are turkey, chicken and fish.
4. Donuts and muffins. The culprit here is Tran's fats, and it is thought that this terrible fat is responsible for a minimum 30000 premature deaths in the United States each year. They may be tasty, but from a nutritional standpoint they're a nightmare. Because of the high quantities of sugar and fat, along with refined flour makes them very high in calories, with practically no nutritional value in return. There are many breakfast options that are far superior, and really don't take much more time to prepare than standing in line for that scone.
5. The dressing we put on salad. We construct these amazingly healthy salads, and then bring them down with gobs of bottled salad dressing loaded with sugar, saturated fat, Tran's fat, preservatives and salt. All of these ingredients have been linked with heart disease, hypertension and high levels of cholesterol. Salads are a wonderful part of our diet, but enhance their health benefits with a healthy dressing. Think about making your own, as you can find many great recipes on the internet that offer much better health values than store-bought dressings.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An Overview of Visceral Leishmaniasis

Visceral Leishmaniasis may sound so medical and foreign but this disease is the second most common parasitic killer in the world. It is responsible for over 500,000 new cases each year. The disease is endemic in Africa and some areas of Europe. Because of the prevalence of poverty and the difficulty to educate the people in depressed areas, campaign against leishmaniasis is not too successful. Furthermore, Africa's continuous civil war in various places made it more difficult to eradicate the disease. Because of displacement and people always travel from one place to another just to look for a better place to live in, these people unknowingly spread Leishmaniasis.
Causative Pathogen
The causative pathogen of visceral leishmaniasis was first described by Doctor William Leishman and Charles Donovan. Because of their efforts, the pathogen was named after them, Leishmania donovani.
Today, there are three species of L. donovani that were identified to cause V. leishmaniasis. These are L. donovani, L. infantum, and L. chagasi with the first two mentioned species primarily affect Africa, Europe, and Asia while the last affects South America.
L. donovani is transmitted through a vector sandfly. The sandfly is so small that it is hard to notice. Infected sandfly will suck blood from its host then through its saliva; the L. donovani crosses the body's first line of defense. The parasite will then overrides macrophages and inside, they will nourish themselves until the parasite is able to replicate itself. Eventually, the macrophage will burst, releasing the daughter parasites. They will then find new macrophages to infect and this procedure is repeated unless proper medication and management is administered. The most affected organs during L. donovani invasion are the liver and spleen.
Signs and Symptoms
Most patients dying from visceral leishmaniasis do not die because of the disease itself. In most areas where leishmaniasis is endemic, there are also other prevailing diseases. For example, AIDS is also a problem in Sudan and in some African countries. As an opportunistic infection, the crippling effect of both AIDS and leishmaniasis occurring simultaneously in one body is too much to handle by an individual. As a result, sure death is incurred. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of visceral leishmaniasis.
Decreased weight 
Enlargement of the spleen and liver 
Abnormal blood count (low WBC and platelets)

Prevention is always better than cure. As of 2012, there are efforts headed by a research institute to produce a vaccine. Trials are still on going to test the vaccine with promising results. If this vaccine is successful, then prevalence of visceral leishmaniasis will surely decrease.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What Is Lymes Disease Rash?

Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks and is caused by a spirochete bacteria name Borrelia burgdorferi. When the bacteria reach the bloodstream and are spread throughout the body, it can cause signs and symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
Deer ticks are the vector insect of this kind of disease. B. burgdorferi lives in the saliva of the tick and when the tick bit a person, the bacteria is introduced inside the body. B. burgdorferi will then travel the bloodstream and infect different body parts such as the nervous, integumentary, and musculoskeletal system.
Its most noticeable symptom is the rash that it creates, which is an immune response of the body to the invading foreign bacteria. The rash is developed by the time the deer tick bit a person. The tick's saliva is a perfect nourishing substance for the bacteria. The tick's saliva itself contains chemical that can disrupt or damage the local immune system. When the skin's immune system is compromised, it can serve as a breeding ground for the bacteria. From the site of the bite, the spirochete bacteria will then asexually reproduce and will spread outwardly. This is the main reason that lyme disease rash is circular in appearance. In some unknown reason, the neutrophils, which are the body's antigen for invading bacteria, do not respond promptly to the site or failed to take action.
Signs and Symptoms
The manifestations of lyme disease may greatly depend upon what part of the body is affected. Generally, the signs and symptoms are produced because of the body's response to the invading bacteria. Thus, the signs and symptoms are indication that your body's immune system is still operating. But prolonged exposure to infection without any sign of recovery will eventually lead to exhaustion and possible irreversible damage to the body.
Aside from rash which has been mentioned above, the following are some of the signs and symptoms of lyme disease.
Early Stage
Circular rash has 5 to 6 inches diameter 
"Bull's eye" rash 
Occasionally itchy or painful

Signs of inflammation may or may not be present
Late Stage
Cerebral palsy 
Shooting pain that leads to sleep disturbances 
Bladder problem

Lyme disease has many other complications that may even affect mental and emotional health. This is the main reason that early detection and prompt medical attention should be given. Lyme disease may not be serious at first, but the later stages of the disease may lead to debilitating effects.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

An Overview of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever

What is Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever?
Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) is a disease caused by viruses mainly transmitted by Aedes aegypti (a type of mosquito), though other species of mosquito can also transmit this disease. DHF is popularly known as the "break-bone disease" because most of its victims suffer from muscle and joint pain. Diagnosis of dengue should be done promptly because the disease may progress so fast that saving the life of the patient may be impossible. This is harder than most would have thought because the first signs and symptoms of DHF are not symptom-specific.
Dengue is commonly occurring in tropical and sub-tropical areas. It is endemic in countries around the equator and potentially affects over 2.5 billion people. There are many efforts made by government and non-government organizations to at least curb down or eliminate the risk of developing DHF. Some of these efforts were successful but there is still so much work to do.
Pathophysiology of DHF
Dengue virus needs a host to thrive. When it is contracted by a mosquito, the dengue virus will stay in the saliva and when the mosquito bites a person, the saliva carrying the virus will enter the skin. The virus will then look for a cell, in this case white blood cell, where it will replicate itself as it moves throughout the body. The white blood cell will then try to suppress the proliferation of this virus. This will trigger most of the non-specific symptoms of DHF such as fever, body pains, and flu. When the body cannot stop the virus from spreading throughout the body, the virus will affect bones and liver. The virus will also feed on the small capillaries in the body which will cause its collapse. This explains the petechial hemorrhage and bleeding in different parts of the body. As the disease progresses, hypovolemic shock may happen which may lead to death.
Treatment and Management
There is no single course of treatment for dengue fever. Management greatly depends upon the symptoms experienced by the patient. One of the most common therapies performed is the oral rehydration therapy because of the great danger for dehydration. Dengue patient suffers from hemorrhage and fluid loss, thus it is important to look closely for signs of fluid deficit. In addition to this, aspirin should not be given as this might decrease blood clotting.
When the patient is already in the recovery phase, the reverse occurs. The body starts to regain and reabsorb lost fluids. There is a danger for hypervolemia. Loop diuretics may be prescribed to decrease body fluid. When the body is stable and vital signs are within normal range, stopping further intake of fluid is enough as a means of management.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Learn About Chagas Disease Symptoms

Most people might not be familiar with Chagas disease but they might recognize the disease after hearing its common term, the "kissing bug". The disease is endemic in Latin America and it affects almost 10 million people. It affects other countries even if it is not endemic in their place such as the United States and Spain. It is worth noting that the large part of the disease incidence occurs in rural areas where the breeding and feeding ground of the vector insect are available.
Trypanosome cruzi is the causative agent of Chagas disease. It is a parasitic protozoan that lives inside different animals such as raccoons, squirrels, mice, wood rats, and opossums. But it is also found out that even domestic animals such as dogs, cats, and cows can also be a reservoir for T. cruzi. As a result, the disease is even made more rampant.
The carrier of T. cruzi is the kissing bug. The bug feeds both in animals and humans. When it sucks blood from an infected host, the kissing bug can transfer T.cruzi to other animals. But when it comes to humans, the kissing bug is attracted to bite on the face of its victim then after it is done in sucking blood; it will defecate on the fresh wound it made, thus passing on the parasite.
Signs and Symptoms
There are two phases of Chagas disease in human. The first one is the acute phase. This may last for many weeks or even months. The acute phase may last for too long because it is asymptomatic at first. Even when the disease's manifestations start to surface, it is only mild and most will just ignore how they feel. The following are some of the manifestations of acute phase.
1. Inflamed face originating from the bite site 
2. Pyrosis (fever) 
3. Malaise 
4. Itchy or non-itchy rash 
5. Body pain 
6. Headache, nausea, vomiting 
7. Diarrhea 
8. Splenomegaly (enlargement of the spleen) 
9. Liver enlargement

The acute phase commonly subsides by itself and the body is capable of fighting the disease. But sometimes, other factors might lead to the chronic phase. If the body is already weak when the Chagas disease develops, there is a high tendency that the affected person with proceed to chronic phase. Signs and symptoms may include:
1. Myocardial inflammation or enlargement 
2. Arrhythmia 
3. Heart failure 
4. Cardiac arrest 
5. Enlargement of the esophagus 
6. Dysphagia 
7. Enlarged colon

When the disease is not resolved promptly, it can lead to death. Every year, around 20,000 deaths are caused by Chagas disease.