Monday, August 26, 2013

Stroke Prevention Lifestyle Tips



If you've had a stroke, preventing a second stroke is a top priority. "The risk of a stroke is tenfold higher in someone who has had a stroke in the past," says Larry B. Goldstein, MD, professor of medicine (neurology) and director of the Duke Stroke Center in Durham, N.C.
Prevention of a second stroke starts by addressing conditions that caused the first stroke, such as atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heart rhythm that can cause blood to clot) or narrowing of a carotid artery in the neck. Treatment is also aimed at other factors that put you at risk, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. But it takes more than just your doctor's efforts. You also have an important role to play in preventing stroke. It's up to you to make lifestyle changes that can lower your risk.
A stroke can be a devastating experience. Surviving it can be a powerful motivation to make lasting positive changes in your life. Take charge of your future by following these recommendations.
Prescription for Recurrent Stroke Prevention
Antiplatelet drugs and anticoagulants are medicines that can help reduce the risk of a second ischemic stroke. These medicines interfere with the blood's clotting action so that clots can't form and cause a stroke. Aspirin is one of the most common, most effective, and least expensive types of antiplatelet medication.
Know Your Numbers: Keep Blood Pressure Low
High blood pressure exerts continuous pressure on the walls of the arteries. If it is left untreated, it damages and weakens your arteries, making them more likely to clog or burst and cause a stroke. Hypertension is the biggest contributing risk factor to stroke.
Don't Give Up -- You Can Quit Smoking
Quitting cigarette smoking is an important step you can take to reduce your risk of a second stroke. And the benefits come quickly -- just five years after you stop smoking, your risk for stroke will be the same as that of a nonsmoker. Cigarette smoking is one of the biggest contributing risk factors to stroke.
Revamp Your Diet
Improving your diet will address a number of risk factors for stroke -- including being overweight. "Start by replacing high-fat foods with low-fat and lean versions, and replace refined and high-sugar foods with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables,” says Julia Renee Zumpano, RD, LD, a registered dietitian in preventive cardiology and rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic. “These changes will provide you cardio-protective antioxidants and boost the fiber in your diet. Boosting the fiber can help you feel fuller and more satisfied. As an added bonus, certain types of fiber can also help lower your cholesterol.”
Make Your Move
When it comes to the benefits of exercise, there is really no downside to moving your body. However, because you've had a stroke, you should talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Once you get the OK, these tips can help you get moving.
Moderation in All Things -- Especially Alcohol
Heavy alcohol use -- more than one to two drinks a day -- increases the risk of stroke by 69% in people who haven't had a stroke. Excessive drink can also increase your blood pressure.Moderate alcohol use -- defined as two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women -- may actually help protect against stroke. Any more than that may put your health at risk. However, if you don't drink, there is no reason to start.
Make Stroke Prevention a Family Affair
"A stroke affects everyone in the family, not just the person who had the stroke," Goldstein says. "Make a plan as a family to eat healthier, get more exercise, and clear the air of cigarette smoke. By working together, you'll find it easier to stick with new habits."
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Male Menopause

Women may not be the only ones who suffer the effects of changing hormones. Some doctors are noticing that men are reporting some of the same symptoms that women experience in perimenopause and menopause.


The medical community is debating whether or not men really do go through a well-defined menopause. Doctors say that men receiving hormone therapy with testosterone have reported relief of some of the symptoms associated with so-called male menopause.

What Is Male Menopause?

Because men do not go through a well-defined period referred to as menopause, some doctors refer to this problem as androgen (testosterone) decline in the aging male -- or what some people call low testosterone. Men do experience a decline in the production of the male hormone testosterone with aging, but this also occurs with conditions such as diabetes.

Along with the decline in testosterone, some men experience symptoms that include:

·         Fatigue

·         Weakness

·         Depression

·         Sexual problems

The relationship of these symptoms to decreased testosterone levels is still controversial.

Unlike menopause in women, when hormone production stops completely, testosterone decline in men is a slower process. The testes, unlike the ovaries, do not run out of the substance it needs to make testosterone. A healthy man may be able to make sperm well into his 80s or later.

However, as a result of disease, subtle changes in the function of the testes may occur as early as age 45 to 50 and more dramatically after the age of 70 in some men.

How Is Male Menopause Diagnosed?

To make the diagnosis of male menopause, the doctor will:

·         Perform a physical exam

·         Ask about symptoms

·         Order tests to rule out medical problems that may be contributing to the condition

·         Order blood tests, which may include measuring testosterone level

Can Male Menopause Be Treated?

If testosterone levels are low, testosterone replacement therapy may help relieve symptoms such as:

·         Loss of interest in sex (decreased libido)

·         Depression

·         Fatigue

Just as with hormone replacement therapy in women, testosterone replacement therapy has potential risks and side effects. Replacing testosterone may worsen prostate cancer, for example.

If you are considering androgen replacement therapy, talk to a doctor to learn more. Your doctor may also recommend certain lifestyle or other changes to help with some symptoms of male menopause. These include:

·         Diet

·         Exercise program

·         Medications, such as an antidepressant

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Glaucoma and Your Eyes








Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to your eye's optic nerve and gets worse over time. It's often associated with a buildup of pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life.

The increased pressure, called intraocular pressure, can damage the optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain. If damage to the optic nerve from high eye pressure continues, glaucoma will cause permanent loss of vision. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause total permanent blindness within a few years.

Because most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain from this increased pressure, it is important to see your eye doctor regularly so that glaucoma can be diagnosed and treated before long-term visual loss occurs.

If you are over the age of 40 and if you have a family history of glaucoma, you should have a complete eye exam with an eye doctor every one to two years. If you have health problems such as diabetes or a family history of glaucoma or are at risk for other eye diseases, you may need to visit your eye doctor more frequently.

Why Does Pressure Rise in the Eye to Cause Glaucoma?

Glaucoma usually occurs when pressure in your eye increases. This can happen when eye fluid isn't circulating normally in the front part of the eye.

Normally, this fluid, called aqueous humor, flows out of the eye through a mesh-like channel. If this channel becomes blocked, fluid builds up, causing glaucoma. The direct cause of this blockage is unknown, but doctors do know that it can be inherited, meaning it is passed from parents to children.

Less common causes of glaucoma include a blunt or chemical injury to the eye, severe eye infection, blockage of blood vessels in the eye, inflammatory conditions of the eye, and occasionally eye surgery to correct another condition. Glaucoma usually occurs in both eyes, but it may involve each eye to a different extent.

What Are the Types of Glaucoma?

There are two main types of glaucoma:

1.    Open-angle glaucoma. Also called wide-angle glaucoma, this is the most common type of glaucoma. The structures of the eye appear normal, but fluid in the eye does not flow properly through the drain of the eye, called the trabecular meshwork.

2.    Angle-closure glaucoma. Also called acute or chronic angle-closure or narrow-angle glaucoma, this type of glaucoma is less common but can cause a sudden buildup of pressure in the eye. Drainage may be poor because the angle between the iris and the cornea (where a drainage channel for the eye is located) is too narrow.

What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

For most people, there are usually few or no symptoms of glaucoma. The first sign of glaucoma is often the loss of peripheral or side vision, which can go unnoticed until late in the disease. Detecting glaucoma early is one reason you should have a complete exam with an eye specialist every one to two years. Occasionally, intraocular pressure can rise to severe levels. In these cases, sudden eye pain, headache, blurred vision, or the appearance of halos around lights may occur.

If you have any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical care:

·         Seeing halos around lights

·         Vision loss

·         Redness in the eye

·         Eye that looks hazy (particularly in infants)

·         Nausea or vomiting

·         Pain in the eye

·         Narrowing of vision (tunnel vision)



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